Monday, February 27, 2017

Satirical Tales for the Making!

Imagine a concise and pithy story that sheds light on the repeatable and fairly predictable failings of humankind. If you then imagine that, so that no one can possibly take offence, those tales have animals or inanimate objects as the main characters, you have imagined FABLES! Whether they are traditional fables passed on in the oral tradition or literary fables written by a single author, they share a common ability to serve the needs of their current masters: those who would adapt them to suit the times we live in.

My first adaptation of a fable was Aesop’s: “The Tortoise and the Hare.” I had been searching for a family story that would encourage slow readers to believe that they were as important as those who sped through books. I found the framework for my story in that classic tale. My version had the rabbit literally tripping over the tortoise in the road, berating it for being a Rock. And, because I have a deep aversion to our consumer driven society that keeps us rushing from store to store, from sale to sale, my rabbit trips because he is so focused on the next SALE, he doesn’t even see what is in front of him! The tortoise was just there, in the road, pulled into his shell and happily reading. But reading what? Letters, of course!! The rabbit is disdainful of this, showing off how he reads and speeding through the words, sentences and paragraphs in the same book, but the rabbit reads so fast that, much to the children’s delight, he misses the part about the ice cream! When the race between the two does begin, it is a race to the library- whomever wins gets a library card from the librarian! Though the tortoise wins (the rabbit was too busy signing autographs) we do find out that at the library, everybody is a winner- librarians give library cards to us all. The characters were a delight to improvise with and embody. Clearly drawn and with a situation that has captured the imagination for so many years I had the best Material to work with, for aren’t these time-honored satirical tales from another century material to stitch and re-stitch?

At the Sharing the Fire storytelling conference this March, I’ll be taking those in my workshop on a wild and wooly exploration of the riches fables can yield. We’ll improvise with these “fabulous” characters and situations shining the light of satirical fun on the world we live in. We’ll even experiment with devices like rhyme to see how limiting ourselves to a “form” can yield surprising results. Aesop used his own stories to educate his audiences about the foibles and politics of his time. With all to comment on these days, I can’t wait to see what we come up with at my  “Fun with Aesop’s Fables” workshop at the Northeast Storytelling Conference: Sharing The Fire this year!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Attitude of Gratitude

Black Swallowtail Butterfly just emerged May 2014
We all try to do our part. But what if our part was as heartfelt and simple as the psychic space of Gratitude.

Since Thanksgiving I have been thinking about it a lot... How do we express gratefulness? How do we experience it?

The most important thing gratitude brings to me is the experience of Relationship. This gratitude is not at all "General Thanks!" That idea is vague and does not create the experience of relationship. it is when realizing and expressing thanks for a specific creature, place or moment that I feel the presence of the "other" and the gentle space that they take in this world.

Offering thanks is an offering that is ongoing. My family acknowledged it while gathering around a table and before partaking of the food - giving thanks. Here is to the hope that Thanks Giving can be a bit more private - and definitely ongoing.

We do have an important place at the table. Let us give Thanks! #thanksgiving #gratitude #nature #blackswallowtailbutterfly

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tickets to our Winter Solstice event are now available

Tickets to our Winter Solstice event are now available!

We hope you'll join us for this beloved annual event at the historic Loring-Greenough House in Jamaica Plain, MA as we journey from darkness into the light on the wings of Myth Music and Song.

About the Performance: Celebrate the time of the darkest nights with haunting legends of light, entertaining tales and traditional music and song to celebrate the season. Spoken word and theatre artist Diane Edgecomb brings to life the ancient myths that reveal the deep meaning behind winter holiday traditions. Featured stories include the Scandinavian “Legend of the Mistletoe,” the Greek myth “The Coming of the Days of Peace.” as well as humorous English Wassail traditions. Celtic harper Margot Chamberlain and multi-instrumentalist Tom Megan accompany the tales with instrumental melodies and bring traditional and original songs evoking the warmth of the season, rounding out the event. Traditional refreshments, including a Wassail Bowle, will be served at intermission in the Loring-Greenough House’s elegant eighteenth century dining room.
#WinterSolstice, #storytelling, #CelticHarp, #seasonalmyths, #Solstice, #Mistletoe

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Astrae ~ the Star Flower

As the constellation Virgo rises this September so does the story of Astrae ~ the Greek goddess who felt such compassion for humanity.  Her tears transformed became a gift to humanity of the lovely Asters whose name means "star." For my Language of Flowers performances this fall I will be telling this myth for the first time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Storytelling Troubadour!

This August I told tales from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the rocky shores of Maine for room and board and some pin money. I was rewarded with breathtaking sights and lovely audiences - including telling tales by a campfire just before a break with s'mores. The Appalachian Mountain Club hosted me at Pinkham Notch and at Highland Lodge and Newagen Seaside Inn in Maine showed that they know the importance of storytelling. As one fireside boy who is a regular at the Inn said to me, "This is my favorite part of coming here.... well also the Clambake!" A sunset walk from the Inn led Tom and I to discover a plaque dedicated to Rachel Carson. May we all rededicate ourselves to treasuring and being caretakers for the natural life all around us.
Rachel Carson chose the wild beauty of the Maine coast near her cottage for her ashes

Monday, July 18, 2016

In residence at the International Storytelling Center

Just back from a wonderful time in residence at the International Storytelling Center. Five of my best performances in repertory! Whew!! I call it the Storytelling Olympics! The Center has a sweet cottage for the tellers to stay in and a tradition is to leave some goodies behind! So I got to sample microwave popcorn for the first time - bravely sallying on past warning labels for a late night snack - and washed up with Goat's milk and lavender soap! We tellers really do encompass quite a range!! I loved trying to figure out who left what!!! I left my favorite new pasta sauce: Rao's Tomato and Basil and a Sam Adam's Beer from my home town of Boston!

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Meditation on Nature Myths

Here is a blog that I wrote for the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling. It centers on Nature Myths, the topic for my workshop at their annual storytelling conference: Sharing the Fire. 

Boston's Arnold Arboretum at Summer Twilight


You don’t often hear, ‘Wow, I heard a really cool nature myth today!’
You probably won’t hear, ‘Did I tell you the one about how the Evergreens came to be?’ at the neighborhood bar. They may not be the most popular narratives these days but I say that Nature Myths* are the most sorely missed. So much missed that we have forgotten what they once taught us to know.

One thing they taught us is that we belong to the land, as much if not more than it belongs to us. One of the reasons we have lost that sense is that, over the years, the old stories that rooted our imaginations in the landscape have been shredded by assimilation and modernization. We have continued to travel further and further from that Eden, from the feeling that we are in a unified place. We are faced more and more with things we do not know how to process, in terms that are alien to our soul. Mythology, revisited and reinvigorated, can still be a deeply orienting narrative. Myths speak in the archetypal language of dreams and meaning, encouraging us to suspend disbelief and to wonder as a child does at the marvel that is our world.

I've worked with nature mythology for all of my life as a storyteller, plumbing its depths for Seasonal Celebrations, Stories in the Landscape, explorations of specific natural elements like trees and flowers and more. What I find is that these old stories always challenge me to think more deeply about a creature or plant or celestial body. When I am outdoors, those tales accompany me – encouraging meditative thoughts on the natural world and revealing each plant or insect in a new way. Sometimes I feel as though surrounding a natural element with a myth is like gifting it with a new perfume!

For me now, these old stories clothe the world, drawing my imagination closely to it. Truth be known, that is why I began the search. Feeling alienated from the natural world when I grew up and stopped building forts and running through the pastureland and became a responsible adult, I wanted more than ever to find a way and a reason to have nature still be my constant companion. Exploring nature myths has been a ‘way’ for me and my wish is to bring my discoveries to others.

Whenever someone says to me after hearing a myth on roses, “I will never see a rose in the same way again.” I know the right chord has sounded. What they mean when they say ‘see’ is ‘experience.’
The Australian Aborigines call the time of myth the Dreamtime. One of their tribes has a beautiful saying: “It’s true that we need the earth, but that is not the whole story. The earth needs us. It needs to hear the laughter of our children. It needs to hear the pounding of feet to the rhythm of the dance and it needs to hear the old stories told in a sacred manner.”

Does the earth need to hear the ancient stories? I say YES, it needs to hear them and so do we need to be tied back to them as we were “in the beginning time.”

We are such an important element of nature. Better weavers than the spiders. Our myths were designed to weave our intangible imagination into the fabric in such a way that we ourselves could be caught in delight, suspended in wonder and meaning.
Can you imagine that?

* By Nature Myths I am referring to ancient stories of origin that tell how elements in nature came to be, including Nature Mythologies where natural forces are personified.

Read the other LANES blogs on a variety of storytelling topics!