by Lorraine Payette, written October 18, 2013
As the shadows deepen, come. Draw closer to the fire, wrap yourself in the arms of the group, and settle in for an evening of stories. The tellers are rising from the mists, here to enchant, delight, perhaps to frighten you just a little bit, but always to share and have you share with them.
And as the darkness closes around them, the stories will get wilder and wilder. Some will be quiet and intense, others loud and full of life and movement, for each teller is unique. A topic is determined each month, and they come together, eager both to share and to learn from each other.
And, if you’ve a yen, a thought that there’s a story inside you waiting to escape, they invite you to join them and see what you can do.
“There is nothing quite like sitting around a fire in the winter listening to stories,” says Deborah Dunleavy, master story teller and head of the group. “Unless, of course, you are telling them!”
Meetings of the Thousand Islands Yarnspinners are casual and start at 7:00 pm. All of the area’s finest tellers are there, and everyone loves to share a good story. The idea is to have an audience of your peers, other people who are trying something out, working on their telling until it’s just right. And it isn’t all about becoming a professional.
“Storytellers have always been with us, since the earliest times,” says Dunleavy. “When television came into being, the role of the traditional teller fell aside in many cultures. What we, the contemporary tellers, have been witnessing for the past 40 years is a storytelling renaissance. More and more people are drawn to the magic and wonder of the spoken word. Storytelling festivals are springing up and FOS – the Festival of Storytelling in Brockville – is one of about a dozen in Canada, alone. World Storytelling Day coincides with the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere and the Autumn Equinox in the southern hemisphere. Storytelling guilds (celebrate) the day with concerts and workshops…
“There is an increasing demand for storytellers, when the art is understood. We do not read our stories, we tell them from our heart and we engage our imaginations. Neither are the stories memorized, rather they are visualized. And while telling for children has great merit, it is an art form that transcends age. Indeed there are thousands of stories not suitable for young ears. There is a greater movement of storytelling as a way of helping people heal, and the corporate sector utilizes storytelling to improve productivity and interrelationships amongst the workers.”
New members are always welcome, and eagerly accepted into the group. There is a chance to learn what works and what doesn’t, to find the stories hidden deep inside, to retell favourites or create all new material. And stories may be spoken or sung, with gestures and movement added to enhance the strength of that which is put forth.
“Every person has a unique voice and a unique personality that comes through when they tell stories. There are techniques that can be learned and applied to enhance the art form but a true teller will be an honest teller. The new teller will not emulate what he or she thinks a teller should be. Instead the new teller will refine the gift and talents they already possess naturally. There are as many kinds of tellers as there are snowflakes. Above all there needs to be a desire to tell.”
The group has moved from its previous location and can now be found at The Sleepless Monkey Café in the 1000 Islands Mall on Parkdale Avenue. The next meeting is to be held on November 7 at 7:00 pm.
“Come for a cup coffee or tea and listen to some stories, a poem and some music,” says Dunleavy. “You never know what might be in store.”