Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What is TRUTH?

Quick Performance Update: 12/11 at Ft. Magruder Hotel and Conference Center, Williamsburg, VA (private; Ol' Bess Christmas Program); 12/13 at First Baptist Norfolk, VA (private; Christmas storytelling)
Other Dec. performances:  Virginia (Williamsburg)
Upcoming Jan. 2014 performances:  GA (Atlanta); VA (Aldie, Middleburg, Purcellville, Williamsburg, Norfolk), WV (Nellis)

Is it okay to change the truth of a personal story’s ending?  For instance saying, “the ending is not what I wanted it to be, so I’ll make it more…inspirational, funny, or adventurous.”  I have heard some storytellers say that it’s fine to take some liberties with the truth.  I just read a comment quoted from Kendall Haven (and I am paraphrasing, since I can’t find the original), “I am telling the truth as it was supposed to have happened”.  Others are purist to nth degree.    


[Short side note:  I think Kendall Haven is amazing, www.kendallhaven.com.  He would never remember me, but early when I started on the road he encouraged me and I will never forget that.  Amazing speaker.  Intelligentsia of Storytelling.  Read his book “Story Proof”.]  

When I tell a personal story, I try hard to keep it to the truth….as I know it.  If you ask my sister, my parents or my son if certain stories I tell are truthful, they will say “not always”.  My sister says I exaggerate so much, she never knows the truth.  [Remember she is my “baby” sister, and not always to be believed.  J]  However, upon further dissection, when I ask her about a story, she has some of the same elements, just told through different eyes.
The other side of that is, she (and the rest of my family) tell stories that I don’t remember at all.  I have tried to plunge into my mind’s depths and I come up empty on their story.  [Stop, don’t go there:  I don’t have just emptiness in my mind’s depth.]  Sometimes one of them will tell a story that they feel I should definitely know and I’m clueless.  Does that make their story a fabrication?  No, because what is important to one person is irrelevant, or so disturbing or embarrassing to be remembered.  (I don’t have any embarrassing moments in my life…..at least that I remember.) 
Let me be more specific.  On my most recent CD I share my personal story about meeting children for the first time at an orphanage in Vietnam*.  The story ends with a good feeling, because that is where I chose to end it.  I didn’t end it at the point when my missions team colleagues found out that the children had been initially afraid of me, and they were distressed.  I didn’t like that ending, there was too much explanation needed.  Or I could have changed the ending to have a more “Kumbayah” moment.  However, the ending I chose is just right (at least for me), not everything sewed up tight, but a satisfied smile.

The truth is not always flashy, it’s not always funny, it sometimes makes us look bad.  However, that truth sharing could be just what someone else needs to learn.  And if we really are struggling with how a story ends, well, go and listen to my friend, and one of storytelling heroes, Bil Lepp, and make your story the great tall tale.  Only a “Half-Dollar” of truth needed in a tall tale.  Enjoy my truthless (except maybe a few parts), “Malawian Hippo Love Story”  http://youtu.be/Iz95311ZYp8      

What are your thoughts on changing the end of your stories?

*Oh, and here is "Vietnam Missions Trip:  Orphanage".  Is it the right ending?  http://youtu.be/I524NFKOqTE      




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nursery Rhymes for Learning Times Part II

Quick Performance Update: 12/7 at House Concert, Virginia Beach, VA (contact tellspence@cox.net to see if space available to attend)
Other Dec. performances:  Virginia (Williamsburg, Norfolk)
Upcoming Jan. 2014 performances:  GA (Atlanta); VA (Aldie, Middleburg, Purcellville, Williamsburg)
Okay, finishing off my previous blog  -
This is continued about Ol’ Mother Hubbard and my discussion with the 3rd graders.  Just a reminder, I brought 4 third graders up and I had them switch off acting out what the dog does. 

She went to the tailor's to buy him a coat;
When she came back he was riding a goat.
She went to the hatter's to buy him a hat;
When she came back he was feeding her cat.

She went to the barber's to buy him a wig
When she came back he was dancing a jig.

         [The jigs took on many forms from almost breakdancing to kicking their feet as if they were in an old time musical.  Lots of video of this by teachers, unfortunately none from me.]

 She went to the cobbler's to buy him some shoes;
When she came back he was reading the news.
           [Did you know that everyone reads the news by crossing one leg on top of another?  At least in Portsmouth.]

She went to the sempstress
     [Even I didn’t know this word.  I took a chance and said like a seamstress, and was right, although rare in use.]
To buy him some linen;
When she came back the dog was spinning.

    [So every student spun around in a circle.  I then taught about the spinning wheel and we practiced our body movements of spinning.  Q from me:  What fairytale character pricked her finger on a spinning wheel?  One little girl:  Sleeping Beauty.  Applause]

She went to the hosier's to buy him some hose;
                [Well, I had two little boys that put their heads together when asked about this word and kinda laugh, but then decided to give a better answer than what they heard on the street.  So they said, “the thing you spray water with”  Wise choice, boys.  Then I asked them what I wore on my legs?  “Stockings”, “leggings”.  I warned them, “you’re gonna laugh”.  They held their breaths and I said, “In the old days we called them PANTY hose.”  Peals of laughter, because I had said the 3rd grade word, “panties”.  I was officially the best Storyteller ever.]
When she came back he was dressed in his clothes.
     [I had the boys and girls face each other. Oh, and I didn’t use the word dame, but “the woman”.]

The Dame made a curtsy,  [the girls did a curtsy] The dog made a bow;  [the boys did a bow] The Dame said, Your servant;  [the girls did a curtsy and said, “Your servant”] The dog said, Bow-wow.  [the boys did a bow and said, “Bow Wow”.  Again, the joy of student laughter.  They had never heard the word, “Bow Wow”]
Afterwards the kids were talking about all the new words and new interpretations of words they had.  They particularly were pleased by “hose” and “bow wow”  Again, who knows what they’ll tell their parents, but for right now, they are excited about learning.  I have a project I’ll get to (maybe next year) to be entitled:  “Nursery Rhymes in Learning Times”.

More information about the origin of this nursery rhyme written in 1805  see Old Mother Hubbard explanation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Mother_Hubbard)
So what nursery rhyme has that wonderful language that I should tell next?  :)