I want to tell you about the Bay Area Storytelling Festival I went to a couple weeks ago, but I want to start off with a story: A long time ago, so long ago I don’t remember which storyteller it was, a teller went to a prison to tell stories to the inmates. He knew it would be a tough gig, so he thought long and hard about his opening sentence. It was, “You are all here because somebody didn’t believe your story.” It turned out not to be a tough gig after all.
So here we have the folks on the Aid Flotilla saying the Israelis landed armed on our ship in international waters so we had to defend ourselves with what we had, sticks and knives. And here’s the Israelis saying the ships were heading towards Israel with who-knows-what in the holds and we needed to stop them. When they attacked us with sticks and knives, we had to defend ourselves with what we had, which was guns. And here’s President Obama, who I think would like to reprimand Israel as he ought to, but he is president of a country that did basically the same thing they did when we invaded Iraq because they had who-knows-what weapons of mass destruction.
And here’s the storytelling festival:
Here I am at the Tilden Park Nature Center introducing storyteller Connie Regan-Blake to the volunteers, board members and tellers from previous festivals who get to come to the Friday night kick-off of the Bay Area Storytelling Festival. This is the volunteers’ time to hear the featured tellers, because during the festival they are awfully busy. I’m being watched over by a stuffed bobcat and I’m holding a sweet pea sprig I was given because, as festival artistic director Gay Ducey said, “She’s the one who said, ‘We should have a festival! I don’t want to organize it, but somebody should.’” Gay did, and the rest is history. We celebrated our twenty-fifth festival this year. That adds up to a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people. And here’s Connie, who told at our very first festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco:
Here’s the outdoor part of the festival at Kennedy Grove, with Hawaiian performance poet Kealoha bringing a fresh young perspective:
Every year volunteers make a quilt for the festival and it’s raffled off to help with festival expenses. Here’s Martha Shogren, one of the festival founders and long-time quilt organizer, showing off this year’s quilt, with a silver theme for the 25th festival:
Rain was predicted for the weekend, but it held off until about a half hour after the festival finale Sunday evening—that’s Willy Claflin on guitar and I’m in the back row behind Gay, who’s at the microphone leading us in “Happy Trails.” In the background, you can see one of the three performance tents. All day Friday the three tents were full of schoolchildren. These performances were sold out this year (over 600 students grades 3-6) so teachers should reserve early for next year. Contact Robin Wilson (robinyeewilson [at] aol[dot]com) if you are interested.
Next up, the San Francisco Free Folk Festival this weekend at Presidio Middle School in San Francisco. The Children’s Music Network will be hosting a Round Robin Concert (sounds like a hootenanny to me) on Saturday from 4 to 6. I’ll miss that because I’m going to sing at a friend’s party in the afternoon and I’m going to see Alix Dobkin in the evening at the Montclair Women's Cultural Arts Club. Oops, need to read her new book, My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement before I go!
©2010 by Nancy Schimmel
Oakland storyteller Diane Ferlatte and her accompanist, Erik Pearson, on the main stage at the Bay Area Storytelling Festival. All photos on this page were taken by Diane’s husband, Tom Ferlatte.http://www.dianeferlatte.com
Tuesday, June 1, 2010