Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The 2014 Storytelling World Resource Awards are now published. Congratulations to all the winners. I am especially happy for my award winning friends Bill Harley, Janice Davin, Alton Chung, Martha Reed Johnson, Kim Weitkamp, Lona Bartlett, ...Diane Edgecomb, Tim Lowry, The Storycrafters, Donna Washington, Geraldine Buckley, Noa Baum, Mike Lockett, Bernadette Nason, and Margaret Read MacDonald. I am also happy to report that my own story Jessie received a "Winner" award in the "Stories for Adolescent Listeners" category and my story The Punishment received a "Winner" award in the "Stories for Adult Listeners" category. Both of these stories are on my CD Jessie and Other Stories.
For a full list of winners, visit the Storytelling World website at:
Monday, February 24, 2014
Below is the link to Virginia's Culpeper Tells' first televised commercial. This festival will rock the house with Kim Weitkamp, Ed Stivender, Sheila Arnold, & Linda Goodman. We hope to see you there!
Pennsylvania storyteller Ed Stivender’s father was a Protestant Southern Gentleman and his mother was an Irish Catholic Yankee Lady: the Mason Dixon Line runs right through his chromosomes.
Stivender will be one of four featured storytellers at the first annual Culpeper Tells….a Festival of Words, to be held at the State Theater in Culpeper on March 15, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. He believes that storytelling is a way to communicate with a live audience in the form of a dance. Sharing energy with the audience enhances his performance.
“I have always been a daydreamer,” states Stivender, “and storytelling is how a daydreamer moonlights. As a former class clown it is how I entertain my friends.”
Stivender enjoys improvising with audience suggestions or external distractions, like the train that is likely to interrupt a story at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN.
Vicky Reed, a teacher at the University of San Diego, says of Stivender, "Ed's variety of vocalization, facial expressions, and body language for each character in his stories is always brilliant! These things, in combination with his lightening, quick wit, his spot on timing, and his clever use of his banjo or props, guarantee a memorable experience.”
Jimmy Neil Smith of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, calls Stivender the “Clown Prince of Storytelling".
Other storytellers joining Ed at the festival are Kim Weitkamp, Sheila Arnold, and Linda Goodman.
Culpeper Tells….A Festival of Words has received a media grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. A variety of partners are sponsoring the event, including the Virginia Storytelling Alliance (VASA), the State Theatre of Culpeper, Culpeper Tourism Department, Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, Culpeper Renaissance, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Culpeper, and Gumbo Design Studios.
VASA will be hosting its annual Gathering during this same weekend, with events on Friday evening and Sunday morning. If you purchase a VASA Gathering weekend ticket, it will include all performance and workshop events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Registrations fees range from $10.00 for a single workshop, to $35.00 for the full day on Saturday, to $50.00 for a VASA Gathering weekend ticket. A barbeque dinner will be offered from 5:00 pm – 7:15 pm for $20 per person. To register for the festival, visit the website of the State Theatre of Culpeper, Virginia, at http://www.culpepertheatre.org. You may also reserve a room at the Holiday Inn by calling the hotel directly at (540)825-7444 and asking for the “storyteller” rate. The Inn is located at 787 Madison Rd, Culpeper, VA 22701.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Halos in the Darkroom
©Linda Goodman 11/2/2012
I was newly separated with a child to raise. The ad in the Help Wanted section said “Staff needed for Virginia Studio, a new photography venture at Triangle Shopping Center, Portsmouth, Virginia.”
I needed a job. If the place was new and needed to hire an entire staff, there must be something I could do. I called and made an appointment for an interview.
The owner’s name was Gerald. “I have only a sixth grade education and I make $100,000 a year,” he told me, adding "and I can make money off of anything. A friend of mine bet me $1,000 that I couldn’t make money on a photography studio. That’s why I’m opening this place. I’m planning to win that money. I only have to stay in business three months to do it.”
Gerald decided to hire me for the front desk because I was well-spoken and looked cute. Men might see me through the front window, he said, and come in to get their picture taken just to get to know me. He hired a friend of his, Bill Henry, someone with experience, to be the photographer. He then hired two other “girls” to work the phones (telephone solicitors) and his staff was complete.
We got a few walk-ins the first couple of days, but the serious business started coming in after we ran a newspaper ad offering a free 8 X 10 portrait to anyone who walked through the door. The ad ran on Saturday and, since the Blue Laws had just been rescinded, announced that we would be open on Sunday so that folks could get photographed in their “Sunday go to meeting clothes. “ That’s when the business starting pouring in.
A few weeks passed and the studio was succeeding beyond Gerald’s wildest dreams. The great majority of our clients bought packages that cost $35 or more (a small fortune for photos in those days), and the money was piling up.
While Bill and I were having lunch one day, I mentioned to him that I wished that I had more marketable skills so that I could earn a better paycheck (I had seen Bill’s paycheck stub, which he had left on his desk – WOW!).
“There’s no reason for you not to have marketable skills,” he advised me. “Tell you what – I’ll teach you to shoot portraits.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied. “Just don’t let anyone know. No one is supposed to get near that camera but me. Gerald paid a lot of money for it.”
The next afternoon, when business was slow, Bill started teaching me his craft. I, who had never held a camera before in my life, learned to focus the camera, pose the subject, set the lights, and put folks at ease so that their smiles would look natural. Thanks to the tripod, my shaking hands were not an issue.
The next day, Bill did not come to work. I called and left a message for Gerald. When Clients began arriving for their appointments, and the lobby was filled to capacity, I decided to shoot some portraits myself. Bill could always offer retakes later, if necessary.
Gerald showed up the next morning. “I got your message about Bill. I checked around and found out he was arrested. He’s in jail.” Bill, it seems, had broken into the appliance store next door, one of Gerald’s competitors, and stolen two televisions.
Gerald was a nervous wreck. “I’m gonna lose that bet for sure!” he complained.
I thought for a moment. “Maybe not,” I said hesitantly. “I shot the portraits for our clients yesterday.”
“Are you kidding me? Bill let a rank amateur use that expensive equipment! He was NOT authorized to do that!” Gerald was about to explode.
“Don’t get mad at Bill,” I protested. “He was just trying to help me learn some new skills.”
“Well, Miss Know-It-All, we’ll just see if those portraits you took sell. Who the hell learns to be a photographer in one afternoon?” he scolded.
That afternoon the proofs of the portraits that I had taken the day before came in. I must have forgotten to check the light meter. My first session had been with a handsome African American family. They were all wearing dark clothes and I had used a black background for them. I had forgotten to set the lights. All you could see in the proofs was their eyeballs. Other portraits that I had taken had similar issues.
To my surprise, however, the clients were thrilled! “Highlighting our eyes like that!” they exclaimed. “What a brilliant idea! We have never seen anything like it! It’s art!” Gerald was both surprised and delighted. “A star is born!” he proclaimed. “I knew the minute I hired you that I had struck a goldmine.”
The next day, knowing that eyeball pictures would eventually grow old, I remembered to check the lights and set them properly. I centered each of my subjects’ heads in the center of the lights behind them. When I received the proofs the next day, all the family photos were fine, but the individual photos caused a near riot. Every one of them showed a halo around the head of the subject.
“You’ve made my baby look like the angel that she is!” one mother gleefully shouted.
“Now I know what I will look like in heaven,” sighed another happy client.
“You have a gift, young lady,” said another.
I started getting appointments specifically for halo photos. They were so popular, I had a waiting list.
All good things come to an end, however. An elderly lung cancer patient died shortly after purchasing his halo photo. Two weeks after that, a little girl that I had photographed was struck and killed by a car. My once satisfied customers were now making frantic phone calls, wanting to know if I could remove the halos from their photos. The local newspaper even ran a story about these “pictures of death.” Once that happened, business came to a complete standstill. People were afraid to walk past our shop, much less come inside and, God forbid, have their portraits taken.
Gerald could not be consoled. “I can’t believe I’m gonna lose that bet!” he moaned. “I have to stay in business at least 3 months to win. We still have a month and a half to go. I can’t believe I trusted you to be my photographer.”
We were bringing in no income. The only thing we could do was lower expenses. From the middle of July until the end of August, the air conditioner was shut down. Our telephone solicitors were let go. The lights we used for atmosphere were turned off. Office supplies were not ordered when inventory became low. No more ads were placed and no flyers were created or mailed.
At the end of August we closed shop. I subtracted our expenses from our income, and we ended up with a net profit of $245.94.
Gerald slapped me on the back. “Well, kid,” he said, “we didn’t make a killing, but I won the bet. For a while there, I thought you were going to make me a millionaire.”
He locked the door for the last time and handed me an envelope. “Just my way of saying thanks,” he grinned before walking away.
I opened the envelope. Inside was a button that had “Gerald’s Little Helper” stamped over top of a photo of a voluptuous woman dressed as an elf. There was also a coupon for 10% off of a new refrigerator at his appliance store. I threw them both in trash barrel and went to look for a real job.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
On March 15, 2014 from 9:30 am – 9:30 pm, the first annual Culpeper Tells… A Festival of Words unfolds at the State Theater to delight one and all with a variety of performances.
The word “storytelling” is often associated with children only, and adults do not always realize how entertaining and powerful storytelling can be for them. Culpeper Tells will feature stories in the grand tradition of great storytelling masters, such as Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and Jean Robertson: stories that will be enthrall grownups and children who can listen like grownups.
Tellers were hired with a view toward a diversity of performance style so that the audience will experience a wide range of talent. Four of the brightest stars in the national storytelling arena will regale you with their tales. Kim Weitkamp, a renowned storyteller/author/songwriter/musician will make you laugh, cry, and laugh until you cry. Ed Stivender, called “the clown prince of storytelling” by the International Storytelling Center’s Jimmy Neil Smith, will elicit chuckles, grins, and belly laughs.
Storyteller Sheila Arnold, a theatrical tour de force, tells a wide array of original and traditional stories, often accenting them with her powerful singing. Author/Storyteller/Playwright Linda Goodman (Daughters of the Appalachians) dramatically shares tales with roots in her native Appalachian Mountains.
On Friday, March 14, as a prelude to the festival, two of the featured tellers will be offering special workshops at the Culpeper County Library in addition to their Saturday performances. Kim Weitkamp will present “Marketing Your Story” for business owners and non-profits from 1:00-2:30 pm. From 3:00-4:30 pm, Linda Goodman will present “Cultural Journalism,” a workshop for anyone interested in recording oral family or personal histories.
The idea for this festival came from retired Eastern View High School librarian Milt Hathaway, who attended the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and thought it wonderful. He and his wife later met with Debbie Stohlman, operations manager for the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, who was so inspired by their enthusiasm about their experience in Jonesborough that she decided to investigate “storytelling.” As the new president of the Friends of the Culpeper County Library, she felt a storytelling festival would be the perfect community event for the Friends to sponsor. A committee investigated the feasibility of producing such an event, and eventually that same group became the steering committee for Culpeper Tells…a Festival of Words.
As an 18-year attendee of the National Storytelling Festival, Elizabeth Hensley, Technical Services & Collection Development Coordinator at the Culpeper County Library, reached out to members of the storytelling community to find potential performers and partners for this event. Kim Weitkamp, not only an accomplished storyteller, but also an experienced festival producer, offered her design company, TreeHouse Artists, to create the logo for Culpeper Tells. She was also instrumental in the decision to choose a name for the event.
The festival has received a media grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. As part of the grant process, a variety of partners was sought out to sponsor Culpeper Tells. Those partners include: the Virginia Storytelling Alliance, the State Theatre of Culpeper, Culpeper Tourism Department, Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, Culpeper Renaissance, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Culpeper, and Gumbo Design Studios.
The Virginia Storytelling Alliance (VASA) will be hosting its annual “Gathering” during this same weekend. VASA will present a showcase of Virginia tellers performing at the library on Friday night and will wrap-up its activities in the meeting room of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Culpeper on Sunday morning. If you purchase a VASA Gathering weekend ticket, it will include all performance and workshop events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Registrations fees range from $10.00 for a single workshop, to $35.00 for the full day on Saturday, to $50.00 for a VASA Gathering weekend ticket. A barbeque dinner will be offered from 5:00 pm – 7:15 pm for $20.00 per person. To register for the festival, visit the website of the State Theatre of Culpeper, Virginia, at http://www.culpepertheatre.org. You may also reserve a room at the Holiday Inn by calling the hotel directly at (540)825-7444 and asking for the “storyteller” rate. The Inn is located at 787 Madison Rd, Culpeper, VA 22701.
Friday, February 7, 2014
My good friend Lona Bartlett shot this video for me on Wednesday. It is titled The Best Birthday Present Ever! It is a story about patience, kindness, and love, all centered around my 10th birthday.
I developed the story as part of a project I was doing for Arts On Wheels when I was living in Richmond, VA. An artist and I joined forces to bring senior citizens and upper elementary/middle school children together through art and story. I told this story to the entire group as a "story starter" for the senior citizens. It reminded them of similar times in their own lives, and they shared their memories with the children with whom they were paired. The children then drew book cover illustrations for the stories they were told. Great fun! Great bonds developed between young and old.
I think Lona did a great job videotaping this story. A good friend is better than gold.
To watch the video, click on the link below.