Katherine McGinnis, the Guild’s talented stage setter, not only “cosied up” the seating for our first gathering of the year, but played the roles of host, warmly welcoming newcomers, and that of storyteller as she closed the evening.
Chile was the setting of “The short happy life of Pudu” told by Lina deGueverra. The miniature deer spent that happy life in a corral in the family garden until the dramatic end was provided by the neighbor’s dog who, after an unsuccessful attempt to enter Pudu’s corral, came to sit on the steps of the house every single day without fail until the time when poor little Pudu was found dead and lacerated in his corral. The vet confirmed that a dog had done the deed and Lina commented that she “had never known that a dog could plan ahead;” for, having succeeded, the dog never returned.
Introducing World Storytelling Day Festival, Victoria Cownden came forward waving a large branch of evergreen decorated with three printed reminders that March 18, 19 and 20 are days to be marked in the calendar to “celebrate trees in story and song” as hosted here in Victoria by the Victoria Storytellers’ Guild and promoted by “tree” reminders handed out to all present at the meeting.
Faye Mogensen introduced her vivid account of the Pongal festival in India with the comment that “a place of the poor is the place where there is hope.” Having travelled to a place “where tourists never go,” the family participated in the four days of Pongal starting with a thorough cleaning, the swishing sound of brooms, then the decorating of man and beast alike using intricate designs and the feast of overflowing abundance that included the untouchables.
Sheila Blake offered three “shorties” each with a funny twist such as the story of the Frog Prince who acted the “demanding male” and not surprisingly caused the story to end with the princess enjoying a nice meal of frog legs.
Lights were dimmed to create the atmosphere for the ghost story set in old Tokyo as Catherine Sheehan presented Noppera-Bo (the faceless ones) – a modern twist on a traditional Japanese ghost story, adapted from “Mujina” by Lafcadio Hearn. A policeman, a dark alleyway in Tokyo, a faceless ghost…
Martin Luther King Day was the impetus for Moira Walker’s putting into words the double shock she experienced on the day King was assassinated. Being a high school student in Chicago at the time, Moira shared the blazing headline “KING ASSASSINATED” with a woman outside her school only to receive the brutal rejoinder: “Good! I hope they kill them all!”
Martin Gavin a Scot with his home accent well in place treated us to two short allegories – the first one of the devil wishing to enter Noah’s Ark to create havoc and having to transform himself into a snake in order to gain entry by one small hole in the Ark. The second one offering indelicate remarks about “dogs’ ass holes” asserted that those funny behaviours displayed by dogs accounts for the fact that to this day they greet each other as they do.
Calling it a “religious experience”, Norman Mogensen, Faye’s uncle, spoke of thinking of the beginnings of humanity while travelling in Morocco. Tracing a tiny stream in what is now a desert, he found confirmation of his musing when at a stop near the Atlas Mountains, his fingers, as he thrust them into the desert sand, encountered a perfectly shaped spearhead. To this day, that spearhead rests on his desk at home.
Under the title of “Micah’s Figtree” Shoshana Litman presented the age-old striving for peace as a colourful village story of Micah planting a fig tree by his house with the birds carrying those seeds of peace all over the world even though disaster had struck once again. Shoshana’s source was “A person is Like a Tree: A Sourcebook for Tu BeShavat” by Yitshak Buxbaum. “The vine and figtree” are still with us as symbols of peace in stories and songs.
Sharing her deep love of Christmas, Sue McCullough painted a vivid canvas of her Christmas Eve celebration from her walk through the night to the Cathedral whose bells were calling her to the beauty of the sights, sounds and smells of Frankincense and Myrrh of the service. Creating a sense of walking home with her through the cold night, the audience was embraced in the feeling of the power and beauty of the sea that accompanied her home.
Quite a different pageant came to Katherine McGinnis mind as she looked back to her childhood and the village church she attended. Under the guise of “cleaning the church” she and a group of her friends entered one night to re-enact high mass, complete with vestments and candles that only came to an end when one of the actors decided to ring the bell. Katherine said nothing of retributions, but the story of the pageant was kept a secret for many years.
Anne Forester with kind editorial help from Janna