At the 35th annual Connecticut Storytelling Festival, Valerie Tutson taught us how to clip and cluck in a South African dialect just right for our storytelling welcome.
She then shared the African story of how the stars came to be in the sky. I do love a good origin story.
Her dress, by the way, is made up of pieces of worker uniforms patched together. Each bright color represents a different trade, and the patchwork quilt style has been worn by men for ages. Tutson was delighted to find the style for women, while she lived in South Africa, gathering stories and fighting apartheid.
Judith Heineman told the story of her grandfather Oscar Markowitz and his turn in the Yiddish production of “King Lear” on 2nd Avenue in New York around 1900. Dan Marcotte accompanied her story, using music from that very production.
Tim Lowry, from that period of the unpleasantness with King George, showed us what any Southern gentleman wore in his day. The tricorn hat started out as a broad brimmed hat to protect from the sum. But as soldiers, the barrel of their guns would keep hitting the brim. A clever American innovated the pragmatic style of cocking the brim, and the tricorn was born.
Painting the town red. You’ve heard the expression. I didn’t know it came from the fashion of men painting the heels of their shoes. In South Carolina anyway. Think about it and party hardy.
Social grace of the South at time of American Revolution came in the language, too. Dinner was served at 3 pm and was monstrous. You would insult your host if you said you were full. Instead you would say, “I fear I have suffered a sufficiency.” Remember that when you’re at your next dinner party!
Lowry also advises avoiding religion and politics as polite conversation at any gathering. No one has said anything to our current day politicians about this, for sure…
We got to sing a bit, too. Songs from the period.
Who said learning has to be dull? Incorporate storytelling as provocation, not instruction, Jo Radner told us. Provoke the desire to know. Engage the imagination. Sounds like good teacherly advice to me!
I took Radner’s historical storytelling workshop and worked on a story about this provocative goody from my mother. Ask me sometime and I may tell you the story.