VITG Monthly Story Swap at the Home of Rob Rovinsky, October 15, 2016

We met at Rob and Renana Rovinsky’s lovely home in NW DC.

Miriam Nadel started the evening of storytelling with a humorous personal tale about Women of Valor, loosely based on her life experiences with relatives who tried to shape her life. It included an aunt who, when Miriam asked for a chemistry set gave her a kit to make perfume instead.

A new-to-Voices teller, Dominique, told a story about  the resolution of conflict between mother- and son-in-law from Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales called The Snake Chief.

Margaret Chatham followed with a story from Men from the Village Deep in the Mountains and Other Japanese Folktales compiled by Molly Bang. The story she chose is called Patches, but Margaret used the Japanese word (which I may be misspelling) “Toyuki” instead.

Eve Burton told Good Enough to Eat, adapted from the picture book of that name by Brock  Cole.

Tim Livengood let us vote for a story about Vampires or one about. . . .something else. We voted for the Vampires, who, among other things, devoured college students. Yumm!

Rob Rovinsky, our host for the evening, had to have his arm twisted a little to tell a story, but then he gave us two delightful tales: one about How he Graduated from U Penn, which required passing a PE class; the other  about How to Talk to a Taxi Driver in Jerusalem.

Besides the six tellers, we had a half dozen listeners.

Stories were followed by tasty treats:  pumpkin pie, Tim’s fruity bread, pumpkin gingerbread with cranberries, raisins and walnuts, and assorted cookies, veggie chips, and cupcakes. Really yummm!

If you weren’t there, you really missed out! Hope to see you at swap next time.

submitted by eve burton



Summer Institutes and a Master’s Degree program for Storytellers at ETSU

East Tennessee State University offers a Master of Arts in Professional Communication (PCOM) with Concentration in Storytelling/Theatre. This is one of a select few fully accredited graduate programs in Professional and Applied Storytelling in the United States.

The ETSU Storytelling Institutes are short intensive master classes on particular topics within the field of contemporary storytelling. Established in 1992, ETSU Institute instructors have included many of the best-loved performers and teachers in the storytelling world. ETSU Summer Institutes are a great way for interested students to get a taste of the spirit and energy of the ETSU Storytelling Program.

These popular four day workshops may be attended by anyone–either for university credit or on a non-credit basis. Generally one graduate credit hour is available per institute. In-state tuition is available to those who enroll–no matter the residence of the enrollee; however you must go through the National Storytelling Network Instructional Credit Agreement to receive this special rate.

August 1st -3rd, 2016, Andy Offut Irwin will be instructing a course “Telling stories with Wit” ~ great opportunity to learn from one of the best Andy is one of the most sought after performing storytellers in the United States. Andy has been a featured teller at the International Storytelling Festival for 6 years and has received many awards for his work.

September 30th – October 2nd. Clare Muireann Murphy will teach you how to navigate a “Journey through the Landscape of Story” ~ this young woman is bright and creative in her multifaceted works and skills. Clare is a world renowned storyteller who is currently touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company and working internationally as a consultant and an artistic associate with the National Theatre.

For more information:

Or contact: Charis Hickson,Graduate Assistant, ETSU Storytelling Program, 423.439.7606

VITG Monthly Storyswap at Anne Sheldon’s home in Silver Spring

Last night, June 18, 2016, Anne Sheldon hosted the Voices In the Glen Monthly Storyswap at her lovely home in Silver Spring, MD. In honor of the presence of Lauren Martino’s adorable daughter, Bill Mayhew enticed Lauren to tell her version of the Thumb Story, then  followed with The Old Father goes to School, Harold Courlander. Margaret Chatham charmed us all with her telling of Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding based on the story by Betty Van Witsen, although Margaret told it as “Peas, Cheese, and Chocolate Pudding.”

Jane Dorfman, with her customary elegance, told a Grimm’s tale, Godfather Death. Miriam Nadel followed with Lessons Learned from My Father, the tale she’d recently told at the Better Said than Done “Best in Show” storytelling competition.

After wandering from storytelling into a discussion of Raymond Briggs, we returned to more youthful fare. Anne Sheldon led us in a rumpeta-rumpeta-telling of The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vinpont and Raymond Briggs.

Richard Ashberg told two baseball stories: Walker Johnson’s Baseball Debut and 1st in War, 1st in Peace and Last in the American League. To demonstrate the veracity of his first tale, he passed around a baseball card encased in plastic.

Eve Burton told The Golden Parrot a Spanish folktale, approximately as written in Three Golden Oranges by R.S. Boggs and M.G. Davis.

Lauren Martino, who had told the Thumb Story at Bill’s request at the start of the evening, was encouraged to tell a story of her own choosing, and she picked “Yes, That’s the Truth.”

Besides our eight storytellers, there were an additional four listeners. If you weren’t there with us, come next month when we’ll meet at the home of Barbara Effron in Annandale, VA.

submitted by eve burton


Storytelling Voice Care

Storytelling Voice Care

By Barbara Effron

The proper use of your speaking voice can be as important as finding your artistic voice.

The techniques that I learned years ago in voice lessons provide good reminders in the effective use of voice in storytelling performance.

One of the most common complaints I hear from storytellers is that their voices become strained, tired, or even hoarse during a storytelling program.  Here are some things that I do to help modulate and save my voice during a performance.

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The Brain Story Connection

by Ralph Chatham

Last year, while conducting a workshop on Industrial Strength Storytelling, I got so taken with our newly-gained understanding of how people’s brains work that I ran out of time. Writing, however, has the advantage that when the words run on, I can cut them without your knowing how long-winded I was to begin with. So, here is the story of how our brains are wired to think in stories themselves. I warn you that I am going to get a little technical in what follows. I will try to ease the intellectual pain by lots of metaphor. I believe that the insight into why we should tell stories and why stories work is worth the journey.

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Every Good Storyteller Deserves Favor

Every Good Storyteller Deserves Favor – Memory and Storytelling by Miriam H. Nadel

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” – Albert Schweitzer

“I’ve a grand memory for forgetting. ”  Robert Louis Stevenson

The most important advice I can give about memorizing stories is not to.  Most stories do not need to be told verbatim.  But memory still plays a role in learning stories.  The teller has to remember the sequence of events and details critical to the sense of the story.  It’s also helpful to have certain key phrases memorized.  For example, I was once at a party with several other storytellers.  Somebody mentioned hesitating to do something and one of the tellers said, “Be bold.”  Five of us jumped in with “Be bold but not too bold, lest that your heart’s blood run cold,” leading to a spontaneous tandem telling of “Mr. Fox” (from English Folktales by Joseph Jacobs).  That couldn’t have happened if the phrase were so ingrained in our memories from hearing multiple tellers use it when telling that story.

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