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COSTUMES - CLOTHING FOR STORYTELLERS
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1) QUERY

I have a new question: do you wear special clothes for storytelling? I'll have a new garment for my future Renaissance tellings, that one is clear, but I'm interested if you have some kind of special outfit for storytelling...
Macsek 7/10/06

RESPONSES

a) About 7 years ago I bought a pair of coveralls for a summer reading program "farm" theme, to tell stories at libraries. They were comfortable, they were easily cleaned, they were forgiving as my weight went up and down. Strangely enough, when I wore them, I always wanted to mention my great grandfather (family storyteller) who worn them everyday of his life - except they "couldn't bury him in them - not dignified enough".... Anyway, the feeling that he was a part of me when I put them on made me always want to have them on when I told stories in public. Now, even though sometimes I am way underdressed, I wear them to tell in public. I have decorated some of them with purple buttons, embroidery, or badges but they are still my favorite clothes to wear to tell stories in. And.....since I have been eating everything but the kitchen sink this stress-filled summer, I am grateful that they are still forgiving.
Mel D. 7/10/06


b) I have written an article about what storytellers wear and posted it on my storytelling information website. You will find it here:
http://www.creativekeys.net/StorytellingPower/article1006.html
Chris K. 7/10/06

c) What Storytellers wear is as different as the storytellers. I personally do not costume at all. I have to be comfortable when I tell. I wear a shirt with my logo (most people who know me say I wear one most of the time) and just a pair of Dockers. My own personal feeling is that I do not want my audience to see ME as the character, I want them to visualize their own characters, places and things in their own mind. I would like to disappear from view and just the words carry the audience into the story. It does seem that the female of the species tends to go for the
"storytelling" clothes.
Steve O. 7/10/06

d) Not just the females! I've noticed that many black and other ethnic male tellers also wear a wide variety of colorful outfits when telling. I think it's a personal choice and comfort level. If a man feels comfortable wearing bright clothes or costume/ethnic clothing, he'lll wear it. Same applies to women.

I've seen excellent tellers of both sexes wearing jeans and t-shirt. I've seen bad tellers wearing jeans and t-shirt. I've seen excellent tellers in costume or ethnic/heritage dress, and bad tellers in the same.

The clothes don't make the teller. The story, the practice, the audience rapport and the willingness to disappear into the tale all combine to make a good storyteller.

And having said all that, what do I wear? It depends on the venue, the stories I'll be telling, and what the organizer's expectations are. I have some "storytelling only" clothes, but no costumes. I would not feel comfortable in a costume. That's my personal comfort level talking.

When an event planner asks me if I come in costume, that's a signal to me that they are looking for something a little different, eye-catching. So I tell them I don't wear a costume, but I do stand out as the storyteller when I arrive. That has always satisfied them. And I make sure it's the truth when I dress for those occasions.

Recently I did a gig for a library that was holdig a Ren Faire. They asked if I could come in costume I described a couple of outfits I owned that might suit the occasion, and that worked for them. Turned out my outfit was perfect--not a costume, but certainly in keeping with their theme.

I also wear some everyday clothes for some venues. I'll usually add an unusual jacket, scarf, etc to give the outfit some flair (this works really well if I'm going from work to a gig).

That's what I do, for the most part.

I will admit to loving to see the bright, flowing gowns and caftans, etc that some tellers wear. It's visually exciting, and like plainer clothes, the outfits fade into the background when the story works its magic.
Granny Sue 7/10/06


e) As tandem tellers, we pay attention to how we look next to each other. Also if we are telling a set with a theme [stars, cats, dragons, etc.] that may influence our choice of shirts. Selection may be limited by which ones are waiting to be washed.

We have several sets of Hawaiian shirts. Some are identical as in the photos on our web-site and first CD cover. Some are paired by color and similar pattern. We have one set of four where we each have a cream-colored background and a black background version of the same pattern so we can match or contrast dark/light.
Tom and Sandy F. 7/10/06

f) I do, but the clothes vary, depending on the venue. For telling Irish tales to children, I have shamrock-covered long dresses. For Irish tales to adults, a classy jumper with gold and silver Celtic knots on it. Wake tales/scary tales bring out a totally black outfit but I also have some "normal" skirt outfits for more general storytelling. I like to dress so that as soon as I arrive someone says "Oh, you must be the storyteller!"
Cathy Jo S. 7/10/06

g) We sometimes achieve that recognition with hats, capes, vests, jackets, wooden staff, etc. Then we can choose to keep them on for the telling or not.

The most wonderful storyteller outfit I have seen is the Tale Coat and hat of Taffy Thomas. http://www.taffythomas.co.uk/talecoat.html
Tom F. 7/10/06


h) Why do many storytellers feel the need to do the "dress up" thing???

I suppose I can understand dressing as one character, say "Mother Goose" and acting as "Mother Goose." What I do not understand is the need to dress up to attract the attention of the audience.

Shouldn't the story take center stage?

Please do not take this the wrong way. I'm simply trying to understand certain points of view.

I personally agree with Steve's statement that "what storytellers wear is as different as the storytellers." I certainly respect everyone's right to dress as they please.

As a listener.... I feel distracted by a storyteller who "dresses up." As a teller I think I would feel very uncomfortable in some sort of "dress up" mode.

My attire is comfortable, loose fitting and easy to move about in but not unlike what many people see me wearing from day to day. I do not wear shorts on stage simply out of respect for all the people who may not find my legs..... well, unattractive. The contrast of black hairs on white, white skin is not subtle. I prefer to wear Dockers or something like that.... sometimes jeans.

I remember early in my career I had a collection of vests. Seems lots of tellers wore, and still wear, vests. I chose to wear one to hide my mid section, thought I was a little heavy at the time..... Once I took stage at a local festival and the backdrop of the stage was almost the very same red print as my vest... a "bold" print at that. It looked as if I was "part of" the backdrop.... a mobile part, moving around causing all sorts of motion sickness.

I quickly removed the vest and had a solid, dark colored tee under it. Since changing the backdrop was out of the question.... doing away with the vest was the easiest and best remedy.

Not long after that I did away with the vest thing altogether. I think I still have my two favorites.... just for ole times sake.
David Joe M. 7/10/06

i) "Why do many storytellers feel the need to do the "dress up" thing???" Answer? Because ... thank goodness ... there are many diverse tellers and ways and modes of being a storyteller and/or telling.
Mary K.C. 7/10/06

j) >The most wonderful storyteller outfit I have seen is the Tale Coat and hat of Taffy Thomas. http://www.taffythomas.co.uk/talecoat.html<

Taffy's coat is truly wondrous, made from embroidered silk and costing so much it isn't even owned by him. However, the form of the coat and hat is taken from the Bardic robes of central Asia. Almas Almatov, the top Jyrau (High Bard) of Kazhakstan wears one quite similar, though his is embroidered with decoration not actual illustrations from stories. The question of whether anyone not formally initiated as a Jyrau ought to wear anything resembling one is sidestepped in this case by Taffy not actually having requested such a design - it came from the artist.

You can see various costumes of storytellers from around the world at the Storytelling Gallery -
http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/gallery.html
Actually most of them are Bardic tellers from Central Asia, and I haven't got around to putting up details of where they come from. Almas is there, though the shape of his robes isn't clear. And Taffy's coat has a couple of colour photos much clearer than the black&white one at his own site mentioned above.

If anyone else has photos of traditional or other interesting storytellers from around the world I'd be happy to receive them for this gallery.
Tim S. England 7/10/06


k) Part of it depends on where the teller is coming from--theater or library. My first professional telling was on a stage mainly occupied by actors of one sort or another; costume was expected if you are to be perceived as 'a professional'. In a school or library setting, it is less important. Some of it is attracting attention, but not fitting in to the venue can be equally distracting for some listeners.

Costume can also help the teller "disappear" into the telling; it lets you be another person, The Storyteller, someone with no goal other than the best presentation of the tale possible. I tend to be terribly shy (stop laughing, some of you!) and the costumed persona helped, particularly in the early days before I'd developed confidence.
Cathy Jo S. 7/10/06


l) Now on this side of the pond vests means something different- I know you probably mean waistcoats, but i have visions of storytellers in string vests- the sleeveless undershirt (is that what you call them) and very slobby they are too!
Janet D. 7/10/06


m) The general rule with entertainers is that they should be identifiable. Usually at least one level above the audience, or to the side for unusual outfits. Personally I wear black slacks and a black Guayaberas shirt. This is very useful for what I do. I have tried other things over the years but this seems to work best for me.....
Bob S. 7/10/06

n) I came from a theatre background and found that I had to make a 180 degree turnaround to begin telling stories. I had to go from scripted to non scripted, from character development of the part I was playing to allowing the audience to see their own characters, places and things. I started out wearing striped jeans with rainbow suspenders, because I thought I had to develop a "persona" with which my audience could identify. I found that in many cases they remembered the suspenders but NOT the story. I tell so many different types of story (Tall tales, Ghost stories, Inspirational, educational, etc) that I felt one costume could not fit without distraction. I think that sometimes the ability of "being someone else" on stage ties us into one type of storytelling. I find my real joy is being able to switch gears in the middle of a program to bring an audience into a brand new "feeling" for story.
Steve O. 7/10/06


o) I wondered how many of you have logos or some other way of identifying yourself (other than clothing)? How many of you have 'branded' yourselves / your work somehow or other ? I have a caricature of myself and as well as a logo (flying bird) ... though both of these are used in other ways than identifying myself as a storyteller, etc.
Mary K.C. 7/10/06


p) This thread crops up in many places and I agree that for me at least and people I am most likely to hire as producer. Neat, plain dress is preferred---I have tended to wear red shirt and black trousers for most storytelling events and white shirt and black trousers for ghost stories---There is nothing unique or outstanding about either of the shirts and I actually have several of each depending on the weight and length of sleeve. I also dress like this on occasions when not telling.

Costume makes sense--if you are doing a first person dramatic monologue--something I consider way out on the fringe of storytelling and more in the realm of theater. I believe the basic voice of storyteller is narrator even when telling in first person--we at least begin and end as narrator.---I have a few stories that I tell in first person because I can't get them to work as well any other way---but I tell the audience that before I start so they know it is not "my story".

On several occasions I have witnessed, it seems that the teller in costume was the only one impressed by it. If tellers are of the active, moving type I think it important that their clothes move with them. One remembrance aside I recall the storyteller telling us how beautiful her shawl was and swinging it around and how much it added to her telling. Well, she told about an hour later in our oleo--her shawl fell off three times and it had gotten off center and was dragging on the ground by the end of her telling and she stumpled--nearly tripping on the shawl on her way off. Needless to say I and others only remembered the shawl--nothing of the story.

On the other hand----many times the costume has helped in promotion. On at least four occasions different newspapers have asked for a picture of the storyteller in costume--no costume no picture in the paper. My picture with the red shirt has brought me press on several occasions. One time in Green Bay out of a long list of storytellers appearing at a festival my picture was printed full page in color. This netted me an appearance in a historical role on Wisconsin Public Television.

Much of my appearance in the documentary was acting with narrator voice over. The producer and camera people remarked at my unusual (in there experience) to stay focused in character with so much visable expression with no script. The man was a journalist and one scene was of him writing an editorial---I was reworking a ghost story at the time so I used the hour they were filming me writing on the ghost story---scratching out--etc. all with quill and ink. The other scene was an oration before a crowd essentially inciting them to storm the jail and free a slave---I just told the story from John's Gospel of Jesus casting out the money-changers from the temple--over and over---for about an hour of takes---it worked.
Karl H. 7/10/06


q) "Why do many storytellers feel the need to do the "dress up" thing???" Because it's an excuse to go shopping...duh....
Leanne J. 7/10/06


r) I tell as characters as well telling as as myself. When telling as a character, I, of course, have a costume. When telling as myself, I have a favorite outfit that I've used in my publicity, and I like to wear it. It is not a special "performance costume" but only a nice pants and shirt. Since I use it on my publicity materials, I feel it helps to identify me as the storyteller. I also enjoy wearing long flowing skirts--but I wear long flowing skirts for "everyday" wear as well, so it isn't a special "costume" for storytelling.

When I'm listening to a storyteller, I find that I take in the whole picture in the beginning, but as the story unfolds, I forget about the teller and am immersed in the story. If the storyteller has on a beautiful outfit that is appealing, it makes the first impression more satisfying, but as we get into the stories, it doesn't really matter what the teller is wearing. Actually a "different" costume can be distracting if the storyteller isn't good enough to draw me into the story.
Judith W. 7/10/06


s) There must be some sort of market for tellers in costume. A few years ago I was working an information table in the Old Courthouse at the St. Louis storytelling festival. A mother walked up with two children in tow. She said she was very frustrated that she hadn't been able to find and hire a storyteller who would come in a fairytale costume for her daughter's birthday party. She really, really wanted to talk about that experience and how important she thought costume was. Don't have any idea how many others there might be like her, though.
Irene D. 7/11/06


t) The thing is, I've always like the best stories about badrs and storytellers themselves, and in some of them these kind of people are usually distinguished by something. Celtic bards wear those beautiful golden or silver branches with the little bells; other storyteller simply wear bells to be heard when coming; others have those colorful coats or skirts. I like the idea; as for jewelry I usually wear little bells on my ankle because I like the sound (I wore them even before the idea of storytelling occured to me.) And I have a tiny little book, a friend of mine made it to me; I can wear in on my necklace and I wrote in it the titles of my favourite stories. And when I was younger and really into fairy tales I made a necklace for myself of rainbow-colored strings; and for every tiny knot I told a story. I still have that; children in the camp when they want me to tell a tale shamelessly dig it up from my bag and bring it to me.
Macsek 7/11/06


u) After having a difficult 12 letter-long last name for more than 1/2 my life, I developed my LoiS logo. I found myself keeping it when I re-married since I've been telling with it for so long it would have meant losing an identity & storytelling reputation I developed. I often wear a t-shirt with the logo, but I'm also now using a banner with logo & contact information. This lets me wear something else when I want/need to do it.

I now often do a presentation as a woman in our area who was involved in the Underground Railroad & Civil War. Since I present it as if I come from 100 years ago, I also dress as she would. In addition, our Highland Games requires Scottish-style clothing (I use the tartan closest to my family clan of Stirling), a local farm requested a "hired girl" persona, & at Christmas I have been requested costume so I wore "Christmas colors & a 'Santa' hat." Other than the 100 years ago re-enactment, I don't volunteer a costume, but will do it if I consider it appropriate.
LoiS 7/11/06


v) Although not appropriate for all tellers or all tellings, it does seem that people love costumes. It's even better when the audience gets to play dress up too.

Last August here in Bartlesville, we staged a re-enactment of the historic trial of Susan B. Anthony for the federal offense of VOTING. The trial actors, of course, were in period costume (late 1890's) as were our Women's Network members who did a rally in her support featuring speeches (excerpts from actual speeches, readers' theater style) by famous suffragists. I did one of those, led the singing of suffragist protest songs (esp useful when our mic power went out for a while) and the march on the courthouse complete with signs and banners (Votes For Women, etc).

Since seating in the courthouse was limited even though Susan B (our District Judge) had taken the precaution of making sure the Fire Marshall would be away on a fishing trip, we offered preferential access to listeners who came in period costume.

What a success!!! We had adults and children of all ages in rigs ranging from genuine antiques to modified prom dresses worn over running shoes. Men in straw hats, celluloid collars, and icecream suits. Boys in Huck Finn overalls. The march from the community center to the courthouse stretched over four blocks! We rigged speakers in the courthouse halls for the overflow, and made a mental note that inviting the AUDIENCE to come in period costume seems to add to the excitement, as well as enhancing attendance! Now: what can we do for an encore?
Fran S. 7/11/06


w) "...she was very frustrated that she hadn't been able to find and hire a storyteller who would come in a fairytale costume for her daughter's birthday party..."

This is exactly why I don't costume . . . People who have so much money to spend on Kid's birthday parties to get something they don't know anything about . . .Storytelling!

I have had so many times when people have called and said "gee, what costume do you wear?" When I finally got upset enough to ask "what does a costume have to do with my telling a story!" She got indignant with me and told me that I couldn't be much of a storyteller if I didn't wear a costume! "All REAL storytellers wear a costume!" That is when I told her that I appreciated her interest in storytelling and I hoped that she got the storyteller that was just what she deserved!
Steve O. 7/11/06


x) I have another thought on this (scary!):

Why not dress up? As far as I know, there are no rules governing how we dress, no formal dress code for storytellers (fun thought--what would THAT look like?).

So what difference does it make what one of us does or doesn't do? We are nto likely to change our style because "everyone" is wearing a red shirt or flowing skirts. I hope not, anyway. Surely we've outgrown that age group!

Storytellers come in all sizes, shapes, persuasions. They should dress as they feel best, and let us all enjoy the wildly diverse range of styles, colors and patterns.

I well remember the storytellers parade at the Jonesborough conference. What a brightly colored quilt we made as we marched and tootled our way down the street.

Just so long as folks do dress--nude storytellers might be a frightening sight!
Granny Sue 7/11/06


y) Personally, it wouldn't make any difference to me. I generally listen to tellers with my eyes closed so that I can concentrate on their voices. So, I wouldn't see what they are (or are not) wearing. This also mean that I never see their gestures or postures or facial expressions but that allows me to give my full attention to the story and to the teller's use of language in the service of the story...all without visual distractions which, in many cases, destroy the magic.
Meryl A. 7/11/06

z) Then, for you a tape or CD is equal or better than a live perfomance. Communication research tells us that the non-verbal communicates substantially more than the verbal to most folks. Listeners that don't interact with the teller---help tell the story don't get as good a story from most tellers, unless of course the rest of the audience is pulling their weight It is most uninspiring to tell to an audience with their eyes closed. Good stories are carried on the images not the words. To listen to Donna Washington tell a story with one's eyes closed is to miss nearly the whole engagement.

I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum---I don't believe that it's storytelling if there is no live interaction with the audience.So for me there are no tapes, CD's or DVD's of storytelling--by being petrified they become something else---perhaps spoken word.
Karl H. 7/11/06


aa) And once more, we are introduced to the mysterious differences between people. I usually bring my knitting because my hands get fidgety if I don't have something for them to do. I do look away from it much of the time (the beauty of having knitted for 40+ years) and I tend to bring simple work to storytelling and work on the more complicated patterns at home, so I hope I'm still "pulling my weight."
Mary G. 7/12/06

bb) Funny, your comments about storytelling in the nude, comical though they be, made me remember the time a kid asked me to pray for her in the swimming pool. I started praying out loud, and another kid swam up and started laughing loudly. I stopped and looked to see what was occuring (I was praying with my eyes closed) and the laugher yelled, "You can't pray in a bathing suit, in the swimming pool!" Funny the ideas kids get.........now, if I'd been swimming in the nude, everybody would have needed to close their eyes and pray...
Mel D. 7/11/06


cc) Actually my biggest problem is that I wear overalls and little else in the summer. This is my native dress....this combined with I a sufficiently solitary life way which lets me succeed in keeping them out of the wash for a few days means that they do tend to rot out in the seat....and it is a strange thing - unlike a wear patch the entire seat disintegrates at once....So there I was at election judge training - one minute I had a seat and the next I was bare....good thing I had a long shirt that pulled down.....best bet really is to always purchase flesh colored overalls.....no one would tell....
Conrad B. 7/11/06


dd) I don't tend to wear costumes, just something identical that fits my style (I usually wear colorful and sometimes weird clothes - I'm in university after all...:). "You must be the storyteller" sounds wonderful to me - I wish I would hear it once...:)
Macsek 7/12/06

ee) First let me tell you that besides telling stories I love to sew! This makes me totally prejudiced when it comes to the question of costumes and telling. Think of all the characters you could be! Wonderful! I love making costumes and have for some fellow tellers and even some who claim they never tell stories. Anyway when I told for last year's Summer Reading Theme of Dragons, Dreams and Daring Deeds I told for most tellings in full Renaissance costume - not the most comfortable dress for hot Michigan summer days. My alternate was a kimono of this wonderful dragon fabric I found while on a conference in Chicago -had it in the drawer for years before I made something out of it -literally. Anyway this year the theme is Claws Paws Scales and Tales and although my friends tell me I don't dress like a normal person (not sure if this is good or bad) I am Not dressing up as a critter.

Anyway that aside, what I wear always gives me pause -always. Nonna used to say that no matter where or when you went it was always possible that someone would see you for a few seconds and never again. Their whole opinion in you would be made in that snap second never to be altered and we all know that first impressions are critical. We all know that clothes create an image -how you present yourself. I often think that many of the people who come into the library where I work do not own mirrors -or they would never have left their house looking as they do! I can appreciate comfortable but there is no excuse for slovenly!

Besides look at a pattern book -you can be anything -and if you look closely and take the outfit piece by piece you can be that person hidden behind your everyday life. My dragon kimono is certainly not my only kimono. I have them in various colors as well as broacades. When I tell the same flowing skirt, peasant blouse or scarf goes with a bright blouse and snood (these I wear all the time). When I go to work the storyteller is there, the brocade kimono /overdress gets worn instead of a plain jacket and I am suited for another role.

One note of caution which has been stated- you need to be aware of who you are telling to. When telling in the schools I found that telling to younger or special education children the costume has to be toned down or the children will be so totally focused on what I'm wearing they will not hear what I'm saying. I look at where I am and hope that what I wear gets their attention so they will stop and listen to what I have to 'tell' them.

Look in the mirror -what do you see? Is that who you want to be today? Maybe maybe the black suit and white blouse needs a scarlet scarf to let people know you are ready to work but also that there are stories in the air -just waiting to be told. Look in the mirror who do you see? Then turn around and see what I see. What wondrous stories walk about us each day -may we find them all! Talk to you all soon.
Loretta 7/12/06


ff) Why dress up? To show respect for your audience. When I teach or run errands I try to dress in clean comfortable clothing. My partner, Tom, has given up neckties except as a "costume piece" and we follow Quaker simplicity to some degree--not over dressing. I've given up on make-up, but I still find pleasure in earrings and necklaces.

We tell in tandem and have taken to wearing comfortable clothing in harmonizing colors. We often wear matching or near matching aloha shirts. These are the same clothes we might wear any day of the week. We do make a point of not clashing when we're sharing the stage.

I've wondered at some festivals if the teller was snubbing us by wearing a torn ratty tee shirt.

Can you imagine attending the symphony and the orchestra members aren't wearing black? It would seem unprofessional.

Gone are the days when we wore hat and gloves to go downtown! [Well my mother did.]
Sandy F. 7/12/06


gg) Coming late to the discussion but I will throw my two cents into the storytelling ring. While I don't dress in costume, except at Halloween, I do try to pick my outifts carefully in order to project a professional image. If possible, I wear regular clothes that complement the theme. For example, I have a show called Tales With Scales - Fish Stories From Around the World. In the summer I wear an outfit, pants and top, that is a lovely royal blue. The top has embroidered sea shells and fish on it. When I do my multicultural program I wear a tapestry vest that has the faces of children from around the world, dressed in clothes from their cultures. At Christmas I wear a velvet green outfit or a festive holiday sweater. These are not costumes per se but they do add a little dash to the presentation.

I agree with your statement Sandy. am one of those folks who believe that clothes should be ironed, I have been teased a lot about this by various friends I have shared rooms with in the past. However, I feel it is disrespectul to our audience to appear on stage wearing clothes that looked like the person slept in them. As my storytelling friend Linda Gorham (who ALWAYS looks gorgeous) said, "There is no excuse for being wrinkled!" While storytellers don't have tons of cash to spend on the latest fashion trends we owe to our audience, and our profession, to look our best when we take the stage.

And of course, as Leanne said, any excuse to shop is a good one.
Karen C. 7/13/06


hh) "There is no excuse for being wrinkled!" I'm assuming now you are only referring to the clothes we wear. Being of a certain age, I believe I do have an excuse for being wrinkled and a bit saggy in places that didn't used to be and original-hair-color-challenged.
Sue B. 7/13/06


ii) I even iron jeans! Before hotels all had irons in the rooms (which I love), I had a travel iron I used. So, I am definitely not into wrinkles (even though my skin has several).
Chris K. 7/13/06


jj) My mother had an invention called a Mangle. This had a big roller about 3 feet long, and a HOT plate on the back and you put things through it and they got IRONED! She ironed EVERYTHING! My underwear got ironed, my socks got ironed, the towels got ironed ( you haven't lived until you dry off with an ironed towel that the nap is ironed FLAT!) When we got married, my wife would iron my under ware and T shirts. She was complaining one day about how hard that was and I asked her why she did it! She replied "because your MOTHER ironed your underwear and T shirts!" I tole her I didn't need them ironed and they were a lot softer when just left to dry. She hasn't ironed much since.
Steve O. 7/14/06


kk) Ah, the iron. That strange contraption that lives in my laundry room and only comes out to play when things get really, really desperate. I do envy the starched white shirt, the clean crisp linen clothing that states (it would never scream) "I have it together!" In the meantime, I will clean up from my kids' soup-blueberry-milk creation and help my three-year-old change shorts after his "almost" trip to the potty. The fish, I'm sure, understand that I haven't fed them in two days. These are the golden years, eh?
Lainie L. 7/14/06


ll) My mother had a Mangle, too. She taught me how to use it, and I always thought it great fun. We ironed sheets, underwear, and dish towels. She could even iron my dad's shirts--quite skillfully. We didn't iron the bath towels, however. When my husband and I moved into my parent's house ten years ago, I donated the Mangle to a friend who has an Indian-style ashram in Nebraska. They used it for ironing saris and lungis (men's "skirts). Every now and then I think, "oh, it would be nice to have that Mangle back" (like now--I have a bunch of curtains to iron). My friend sold it when she stopped managing the ashram.
Added later: His post reminded me of an exercise that my favorite acting/improvisation teacher had us do. We had to bring some of our clothing to class--things that we felt comfortable wearing. All the clothing was put in the middle of the room, and then she asked us to pick out something to wear that was completely different from what we usually wore. We put on this clothing, and paid attention to how it changed out movement patterns, our feelings, our thoughts, etc. Then we were instructed to wear different clothing from usual all day!

I usually wore pants and tight t-shirts; if I wore a dress, it would be a tight-fitting one. I chose from the pile a lovely flowing skirt that flared out as I walked, and a very loose fitting top. At first it felt quite strange, but as I lived in that outfit, I found that I really enjoyed the freedom of movement it gave me. I felt much more graceful and feminine. After that, I bought some loose clothing, and enjoy wearing such things today. I also wear tight clothing sometimes.

What I've found is that what I'm wearing has quite an influence on how I act and feel. So, picking out something to tell in is an important choice to make.
Judith W. 7/14/06


mm) An aunt of mine had a mangle, but she took in ironing for others, so it was faster. Mom told me she earned that money to pay for family trips to see her folks. I had never thought of how lonely she might have been, leaving her family behind.
Mary G. 7/14/06


nn) Reminds me of one of Natalie Goldberg's writing exercises - don't have the book handy but it's called something like "blue lipstick and cigarette hangin' out your mouth..." she suggests dressing in entirely alien clothing, going to a coffee shop or restaurant where nobody knows you, and doing your writing that way - just to see if there's anything different about the product. For a writing class, a box of costume pieces - hats, wigs, jackets, ties, glasses....

Come to think of it, it would be fun to see how the outfit changes a storyteller's persona. I share this excellent idea with all of you ABSOLUTELY FREE, fully expecting that those words will lead you to completely ignore the fact that Judith just mentioned exactly the same thing in her letter below.....FREE! FREE! FREE! TRY IT TODAY!

This FREE GIFT OFFER courtesy of:
Kimberley K. 7/14/06


oo) CLOTHING:
Why costume? Some of us have never lost our joy of playing "dress-up." By donning a costume we "become" someone else. If that someone happens to be a storyteller, great.

As with most issues, clothing is a very personal one reflecting your own personality and comfort levels. If it helps make you a better storyteller, go for it. If it doesn't, why bother?

Quite frankly, one the greatest inventions of the twentieth century is the discovery of "permanent press." If I can't take it out of the dryer and put it on, it only gets worn once. Since I can't afford to wear things only once, it either irons itself or does not belong in my closet.

LISTENING VERSUS SEEING:
As a teacher, I always wondered what my students "saw" and "heard" when I used storytelling cassettes. I bought tapes of tellers I had heard so I could learn some of the stories. When I listened to those tapes, I had a mental image of the teller on stage. But what did my students have?

I never really figured it out. But I did not hesitate to play stories for them. For most, that was the only way for them to ever hear a professionally told story. If by hearing a tape, someone was motivated to attend a live performance, then it was well worth the time to play the tape. If they were never motivated, at least they heard a story they would not have heard otherwise.

Do I prefer live performances? Definitely. But for preservation and wide spread use, CD's, DVDs, and any other "static" means of transmission is wonderful. At least stories recorded by some means are less likely to be permanently lost.

And that brings to mind the differences in "static" and "dynamic." A static recording NEVER changes. Breaths are taken at exactly the same point every time. Laughter occurs at exactly the same point. Words are said with exactly the same inflection. It NEVER changes. It never takes into account the current audience who may not be familiar with some words. [I tell quite a few farm stories; for city folks, this is an alien world, so I have to do a lot of explaining.]

A dynamic story, on the other hand, always changes subtly depending on the audience. Even when you "memorize" something, there is a subtle difference in each telling. If you're telling outdoors, there's no telling when a gnat may fly into your mouth, nose, ears, or eyes, and affect the telling.

DYNAMIC is living and breathing. STATIC is fixed. To become a good storyteller, I need both dimensions of story. As listeners, we probably need both also.
Sylvia I. 7/16/06


pp) I hate to say it, but I love to dress in a crisp pressed white shirt - all cotton and so white it hurts the eye. The creases tight and sharp enough to cut my finger on. A french cuff with a pair of the antique cuff links I have saved at flea markets or yard sales make the cuff look like a million bucks.

Along with that a suit of nice all weather wool, I prefer gray or blues, maybe a pinstripe, but the flashy part of me has had plums, greens and some nice ones in the burgandy and even one with a hint of purple in my younger days. Again, the creases crisp and all nicely pressed.

Place a pocket silk in the jacket pocket with a matching tie tied with a well made Windsor knot (or if storytelling I do a silk hand tied bow tie). Add a pair of braces (suspenders) buttoned, not clips at the end and I feel like I could meet the world head on.

I polish my shoes like my Daddy taught me till they glisten and have a good pair of socks on to finish the look. If it was 100 years ago I would wear a flower in my lapel as well.

I love to dress like that. It makes me feel good and this middle aged mountain man with a belly broadening with age actually can look dignified. (This is one time the gray hair helps!)

I am just not a tee shirt person. I don't wear them and don't own many. I press my golf shirts too, I just like the feel of a well ironed shirt.

So, do I look at others with disdain if they choose not to iron... or wear tee shirts? Nah, I think some folks look great like that, most folks are fine that way. (Lycra, on the other hand make shivers go up my spine when I see folks in it!!!!!) I just don't look good in in, more importantly, I don't feel good in it.
Stephen H. 8/20/06


qq) Stephen, my dad would have loved you (and probably dis-inherited me)! For years I "dressed", first military uniform (retired from the USAF) and then the business world (retired from AT&T [I love orgs with initials I guess]). Once I finally retired I wanted no part of suits etc.My ida of dressing up today in slacks and a Gauyaberras shirt. I perform in that also, all black.

My dad grew up during the depression and felt appearances were important. "Wear a suit and tie. Look like a businessman." he would always say. He never quite understood when I became an entertainer. Storyteller, "What's that? Not a real job!" and my characters, "Silly!"

It was disappointing to me. We like to share what we do with our parents. My mother would have enjoyed it but Alzheimer cut that short. One time when my dad was going on about how I should wear a suit and that "thing" (Drango) on my arm. I asked him if he remembered Edger Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and he said yes. I said just the same, its Bob Shimer and Drango Dragon. He replied, "Charlie McCarthy always wore a suit!"
Bob S. 8/20/06


rr) I started my public telling when I was part of setting up a Living Village - How Life Used to be (in the US, anyway) and therefor needed appropriate garb. The first local Ren Faire was at the same place. I put together a basic peasant look that went everywhere - until the 1900"s. (That was easy, My skirts and a basic shirt with an apron worked there.)

After doing some tellings in a regular atmosphere, I changed my look just a little. See, some days I wanted to wear slacks, some days q regular, flowing skirt. I feel comfortable in peasant style tops, so comfortable that I forget what I am wearing. All the tops I have made for myself are from the basic pattern. I wear the one that fits my mood or needs as my telling outfit. These tops go with all my skirts and slacks.

My husband loved trains, and had me make him train overalls, the official blue and white stipe, with a matching cap. He had two Ren shirts and a Henry VIII style over tunic. Otherwise, he wore slacks or jeans and a basic vest(waistcoat) that helped him look like a storekeeper.

Added later:
Oh, yeah. I have a vest that I wove myself that I can wear as a "I'm not a regular attendee" look, and the shawl that I made for the Ren Faire. I stand out just enough, and can take them off for more comfort.
Margaret S. 8/23/06

ss) When I started telling in 1981, the trend was folk tales and I wore clothing that rather reflected that tread - denim skirts and aprons. I became addicted to aprons and had one for every holiday. Sometimes I wore jeans with a blue and red felt shirt and matching hat. Then personal stories became the rage and I wore flowing skirts with different colored scarves - tres chic! As I became more interested in ethnic stories I began to look for Celtic wear. I enjoy wearing clothes that have some ethnic symbols on them. Now, I wear a lot of shawls called "ruana". They are burnt velvet. They are shaped like a shawl but have slits for the arms to come through. They don't fall off the shoulders like regular shawls. They are my chic d'jour. I love them. You can wear them over anything and they hide a multitude of past sins (aka ice cream). I have become as addicted to them as I was to aprons - I have them in every color. BTW, they are easy to store and hardly ever wrinkle...my kind of clothing. I pop them over a basic black dress and vioila...I'm ready to tell.

For special occasions I have clothes that reflect Halloween or Christmas in the colors of the season. I still have some vests but rarely wear them anymore.

I'll be donning my overalls and straw hat again this year. Since jobs are slim pickin's this September I accepted the job at Eckert's Market to be the announcer for the school groups before they go apple/pumpkin picking. Yee-Haw! You may remember me telling you about this a couple of years ago when I did the pig races. In case you want to see me all gussied up in my fine overalls, just click on...
http://www.marilynkinsella.org/Patchwork%20of%20memories1.html
and scroll down to "Yee-hah". You can also see me in some of my other outfits - ruana, celtic, ethnic, etc. on that page. Number one rule...it must be comfortable. Number two...it must travel well. Number three...it must wash well. Number four...I have to feel great in it.

Now, there are some tellers who wear basic black when they tell. They don't want anything to come between them and the story. They truly want to disappear. And, they do! But, I still prefer a little character to my telling. It's who I am...after all my dad always said I was a character!
Marilyn K. 8/24/06


tt) I always wear clothing when telling stories in public....at home it is another matter.....to not do so would be dangerous.

It is all determined by context....layers of context....not however essential to dress up. I consider anything you don't wear every day overly theatrical as it conveys to the audience that storytelling is in another time and far away out of their grasp on another universe- So wear what you usually wear unless you are working for people who think otherwise or telling to the intolerant and are after money and continued employment....

I wear overalls generally covered with paint and glue every day. I am down to one so must go shoppng soon.....so you may find me in my tribal dress telling stories or doing most everything.

Make it real and accessible. Storytelling is a part of life not a re-creation. I tell so that others might tell. I am however officially weird- My truck is now published a chapter heading picture and several pages in the wonderful book weird Maryland- hard back substantial well illustrated.....from better booksellers and amazon. Lots of stories-hauntings....etc great reference for storytellers.
Conrad B. 8/25/06


uu) We've gone from renaissance to hippie to western and now it seems we've settled on aloha shirts. His and hers. We shop around and often find two that are almost, but not quite, identical. I wear pants or skirt depending on mood. Funny, Tom always chooses pants.
Sandy F. 8/25/06


2) QUERY

I must share this with you: On the Hungarian storytelling list (quite silent) somebody asked for our opinions for organizing a storytelling competition for children. She wanted to know what to look for, how to motivate them, and how to decide who wins. We came up with lots of good ideas. But then someone stated that children who wear traditional costume should get extra points. I pointed out that clothes have nothing to do with how they tell, and I was not even sure the competition would be just Hungarian folktales (though I could imagine it would, for every single competition here is usually "Hungarian folktales only"). He replied that he would be EXTREMELY SAD if children told any other stories (and he added that they still should wear the costume of the culture the story is from). This in nonsense! He said that if two kids tell a story the same and we can't decide, the winner should be decided by looking at the clothes! For God's sake, I don't have a traditional Hungarian costume in my wardrobe, and I doubt all the children have. And they are not that cheap either. "Extremely sad." Phew.
Macsek 10/13/07

RESPONSES

a)
I wanted to let you know that I agree with you 100%! It might be fun if some children wanted to wear (and have) traditional costume, but it should have no point value for the storytelling. That is like giving extra points because your parents can afford the costume when others can't. Your instincts, in my opinion are absolutely correct. It is also too bad that they are restricted in story choice, there are so many good stories in the world, that maybe they won't ever hear. Maybe they could have a catagory for Hungarian stories and another for World Folktales.
Kathy P. 10/13/07


b) Here's a quote from Oscar Wilde: "To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim." This is my second year working with the Pacific Symphony here in South Orange County, California. My part of a wonderful program they offer schools is to present a 30 minute school assembly introducing the composer of the year. Before I came on board there was a woman (actress) who did the Class Act assemblies; Carol always had a full-blown costume from the period of the composer. I was so pleased when one of the HUGE $$$ backers of the program saw me perform and appreciated the difference between storytelling and acting, and saw that a costume was not necessary, but could actually detract from the focus, which in this case is the musician (there are different musicians at each school with me who play snippets throughout the program) and the composer. Teachers and principals who have had Class Act in their schools for years appreciated the interaction with the students that storytelling vs. acting provided.
Not to say I don't give thought always to what I wear, but I think more in terms of color and texture that compliment the story, and in the case of Class Act, the beautiful backdrop panels they provide.
So, my young friend, I am so sorry for your frustration, but applaud your indignation!
Linda K.P. 10/13/07


c) And three -- you are an excellent teller!!! Thanks for sharing this. Clothes do not make the man, or the teller.
Mary G. 10/13/07


d) I was just at my granddaughter's school for grandparents' day yesterday. The English teacher and Emma came up to me and said that they had just had an actor who came to do "The Tell Tale Heart" for the class. He was dressed in Victorian costume and did Poe as a memorized piece. After he left, the teacher gave a test on the content of the story. Next the teacher put my CD version of the Tell Tale Heart on the player and asked the kids to close their eyes and listen . . . She gave the same test, and the scores improved markedly. Two things . . . One, I cut the story to allow the audience "feel" the story instead of just hearing the words, and two, the kids said that his costume was putting the concentration on him instead of the story.
Steve O. 10/13/07


e) << The English teacher and Emma came up to me and said that they had just had an actor who came to do "The Tell Tale Heart" for the class. He was dressed in Victorian costume and did Poe as a memorized piece. After he left, the teacher gave a test on the content of the story. Next the teacher put my CD version of the Tell Tale Heart on the player and asked the kids to close their eyes and listen . . . She gave the same test, and the scores improved markedly. Two things . . . One, I cut the story to allow the audience "feel" the story instead of just hearing the words, and two, the kids said that his costume was putting the concentration on him instead of the story. >>

First, I am not a particular fan of storytelling contests to begin with. However, if I were listening / observing a teller's tale I might or might not give extra points for the costume. This would depend on the overall telling / effect of the story as expressed by the teller. If two children told the same story, and one told it in costume but the telling effect was the same - costume wouldn't make any difference.

I agree that costume and other theatre effects .... props etc. can get in the way of the telling. In your example though I would have expected the children to have improved scores as they were hearing / 'seeing' the story a second time (your cd). Oral telling at it's simplest is powerful and your CD, Steve, no doubt was a real treat on many levels for the children.

There are times, though, when theatre effects, props, etc. do add to the story depending upon the artist(s) involved.

Personally, I do not use costumes and rarely use props. For me less is often more.

I digress: I happened to be in a video store today and came across a movie I once saw ... I regretted seeing the movie. I had no idea it was going to have a scene in it that I would never forget ... a scene that had a negative impact on me. The scene was probably less than 30 seconds. The visual can be so powerful at times ... as I have worked with story I have become more aware of my sensitivities. However, we all don't have the same sensitivities.

However, my husband told me how powerful some of the musicals we have seen have been for him. The visual theatre added to the story. He says that without the theatre presentation (visually) he would not have enjoyed the story as much. For me, I could have done with less.

Costumes and such may be an 'add' to the story for some and may ' take away' from the story for others. If I found the visual to be taking away from the story, I might close my eyes. I have also though have been delighted by visuals at times.
Mary K.C. 10/13/07


3) QUERY

Wondering what sorts of stories or adventures you all have had with customs for your performances...
Eric W. 10/13/07


a) >I was thinking that some people would not be into the word costume and they may prefer instead storytelling outfits. Any experiences or insights. I am not really satisfied with the vest and white shirt that I wear now and I pine away for some traditional outfit from ancient Greece or some such.<

We prefer to call our clothes 'period dress' or 'historical clothing.' As storytellers and reenactors, when the historic clothing is used, we refer to it as "dressing out." Our clothing is made as museum quality "reproduction' clothing. Costume implies cheap imitation clothing that is meant to look fine from a stage. The stores are currently filled with costumes for Halloween. Our clothing is actually worn at events and for storytelling as you would wear your clothing.

A few years ago, the Florida Folk Festival presented Massai dancers. I was there when a woman stopped one of the dancers and said, "I love your costume!" The dancer replied, "This is not a costume. It is my clothes!"

If you choose to wear historic clothing, then it should be related to your stories. We tell nineteenth century stories with nineteenth century music. Our clothing enhances and reinforces the stories and music that we perform. There are places where we "fit in," and places where we do not. There are times when, like the tailor in the Jewish story, our clothes are invited to an event and our stories and music are secondary. Because we also do Civil War reenacting, the clothing is important to us.

Many people have two personas. One wears historic clothing and the other does not. What ever you decide to do, be consistent. If you are the storyteller, you should, in some way, stand out from the audience. How you dress affects how you act. If you are wearing a top hat and frock coat or a bonnet and hoop skirt, you present a different demeanor. In return, others react to you differently. Even 5 year old boys sense the elegance of a hoop skirt.

Nicholas the Storyteller from Miami dresses in medieval clothing.
http://www.nicholasthestoryteller.com/

Frank and I perform as Backintyme and wear 1860s clothing.
http://backintyme.com
Mary Lee S. 10/13/07


b) I perform both in costume (as characters telling stories--especially Mother Goose) and without a special costume. When I first started telling professionally, it was only as Mother Goose, and I felt that the costume helped grab the children's attention and hold it. I still enjoy performing AS Mother Goose--I love her character, and the children always respond very positively to the character. I developed the character of "Dame Judith" for a program of medieval stories three years ago, and enjoyed doing that as well.

When I first did a program as "myself," I felt very vulnerable at first, but found that I really didn't NEED a character costume to hold the attention of the children. The first summer I performed without any character, I still tended to wear a special outfit--the one I have on in publicity pictures--just because I felt comfortable in it, and it is colorful. It is simply slacks and a tank top with a Hawaiian shirt covering it--something that I would wear anywhere.

Performing without the costume was very freeing for me. I didn't have to worry about extra time to change clothes, or making sure my costume was clean and ready to go for a gig, etc. But more than that, I was able to simply focus on the STORIES and my audience. I've even found that I can tell my Mother Goose stories without the costume, and still get plenty of attention and appreciation.

As for "stories and adventures" with costumes: -last spring I was running a bit late for a school gig, and I hadn't put on my costume at home. I usually dress at home and drive to the gig in costume, but I had an errand to run on the way, and didn't want to do it as Mother Goose. In my hurry to get packed, I hadn't noticed that the long ribbon that ties my costume together had fallen on the floor at home. I was hurrying to get into my costume in the school bathroom, when I discovered I didn't have any way to hold the costume together! My costume also has ribbons that hold up the sides of the overskirt. I quickly dashed into the office and asked to borrow some scissors, and snipped off the two side ribbons which I could use to tie the front of the costume together. Since then, I've always checked to make sure I have all the parts of my costume before starting out.
Judith W. 10/14/07


c) I am studying in my teacher certification courses about learning styles. What you described about your husband's enjoyment of the musicals is a direct illustration of visual learning style, while your description of your closing your eyes was certainly an auditory style preference. When I went to the one Broadway play that I have ever attended, I sat on the edge of my seat and sang and danced right along with them, much to the shock and embarrassment of those who came with me. Needless to say, I am a kinesthetic learner, and enjoying that play by Eubie Blake was a whole-body experience for me.

I remember hearing Jay O'Callahan one year at Jonesborough from a packed tent and being in the glorious warmth of a huge crowd WAAAAAAAY in the back. I was forced to "see" the story with just my ears, since I was too far back to really see Jay. It was a labor of love since it was not my strongest learning style, but snapshots of that story of the steelmill industry are indelibly imprinted onto my memory. Don't remember the story, don't remember the name of the story, just remember the snapshots because of the powerful use of his word descriptives. It has made me more aware of the ways that people "hear" stories, and I have tried to make my descriptives brighter, crisper, cleaner, and more sensory oriented to appeal to all learners/listeners.

Oh, and though I dress in coveralls while telling stories, in honor of our family's original storyteller, Papa Ben, I really can tell in just anything - like waiting in grocery store lines, like Mary ,t.....good role model.....
Mel D. 10/14/07

d) I had the occasion a week or so ago to tell at the Nichols Arboretum here in Ann Arbor on the occasion of the Arboretum's 100th birthday. Also on the program was Trudy B., a local teller who regularly tells as Mother Goose. Since parking is a problem there, my husband dropped me off at Trudy's house and we drove to the Arb together. Trudy was in costume and was carrying Gander, her goose puppet, whose head can be manipulated to make it turn sideways and up and down.

It was an extraordinary experience to walk into and through the Arboretum with Mother Goose beside me. Big smiles and immediate greetings from young and old alike. Trudy would stop and introduce Gander to young ones who looked like they wanted to be approached. She was very careful not to overwhelm them and they seemed to recognize that implicitly.

Once we got to the designated spot, we took turns telling until our third storyteller arrived. It was great fun to observe Trudy's work especially with the youngest children, though she was just as successful with the older ones. I have never particularly wanted to tell in costume - it's all I can do on most days to keep my shoes tied! However, I can really understand the appeal.

On the underside of telling in costume and Mother Goose in particular - some years ago Trudy organized a Mother Goose parade and a storytelling event at the public library. The parade was great, but one Mother Goose, from Tennessee, was the most long-winded, didactic teller I have EVER encountered. We all longed for Little Bo-Peep's shepherd crook to yank that woman off the stage!
Judy S. 10/14/07


f) Richard Marsh wrote: It's been suggested that any outfits worn should reflect the culture to which the stories belong. This could be taken to mean that anyone telling Irish stories should wear a raincoat or at least carry an umbrella, but when --
Mary Lee said --
If you choose to wear historic clothing, then it should be related to your stories.

It made me wonder how bible story tellers handle the Adam and Eve pre-Fall incident.
Richard M. Dublin 10/14/07


g) Adam and Eve are enjoying their garden when God decides they need some modesty. It will be good for the world, God thinks, and will prevent temptation. So He tells them they are to each wear a fig leaf.

Given this exercize in modesty, both Adam and Eve go off alone to dress in their first set of "clothing," the leaf of a fig.

Adam chooses a large leaf, because, well just because you're the only guy on earth, doesn't mean it's going to be that way forever. He's not sure why this matters, but it does to him. And of course, he wants to please God, so he errs on the side of modesty. But standing there, behind a sturdy large oak tree, Adam recognizes a problem.

Eve is off experimenting with different size leaves, sizing them up in the reflection of a nearby pond. She discards the ones that make her look fat, and favors those that compliment her hips in proportion to her breasts. She's not sure why, but knows Adam will like the look if she does this, as he tended to stare at these particular parts anyway. As she wades in the warm pond admiring and trying on the different leaves she has chosen (and contemplates how big a closet she will need for the leaves) Eve recognizes a problem.

It's a similar problem for both Adam and Eve. Each scratch their head.

Adam is the first to experiment. Eve, not to be undone, experiments herself. Utilizing the "equipment" they each have been given, each attempts to address and solve the similar problem of attachment.

Adam experiments with several ways to hold the leaf between his legs and still cover himself. Eve tries the same. Neither can walk far without the leaf falling off.

Flustered, Adam finally punches a hole in the fig leaf and threads part of himself through it. Gravity of a part seems to hold the leaf in place for Adam this way, and he figures at least a couple of things are covered. Eve, frustrated herself, finally figures out tucking a bit works, though it doesn't leave much to the imagination.

They re-emerge from the forest dressed for the first time. Looking at one another they begin to laugh. Then a strange feeling overtakes each of them for the first time. What they had so freely before, now seems forbidden by their coverage attempts. It's the highlight of Day 8, though. Overcome with passion, they rush back into the bushes, together.

God smiles as his plan for the universe unfolds.

Since that day, the Adams of the world are obsessed with fig leaf size. And the Eve's of the world are obsessed with what to wear. And that's about as organic as we can get.
Gregory L. 10/14/07


h) I have to laugh at this thread. The one universal attempt I have seen over and over again is the "I am a storyteller so I wear a " vest. I have seen them on men, women, tall short and other size variations. I fell prey to the vest in about 1975 when I was getting my degree in Oral Interpretation and have had them ever since. I have waaayyy too many.

I do wear a vest, I have to admit. I like them a lot and I wear them when I am not telling stories. Had one on today, wear one most days in winter. When I tell I also wear a hat, painter's jeans, a white or blue shirt with a real bow tie - usually red. That is sorta my "trademark" look since I tell mostly Appalachian stories. sometimes I dress it up and add dress britches and a frock coat. I like hats too, have a lot, wear a lot, wear them outside of storytelling. Wore one walking in the woods today. Don't wear caps - don't care for them.

That being said, if I am asked to tell other stories I do usually dress differently - mostly regular... though I recently told at a company picnic with a Hawaiian theme and wore a great Hawaiian shirt I bought when Vicki in Hawaii took me to a thrift shop that carried vintage shirts. (I wear Hawaiian shirts a lot - my favorite shirt of all times)

Most regular telling causes me to dress pretty plain because I don't want to distract from the story.

Like Steve, I have noted it adds little when I wear "garb"
Stephen H. 10/14/07


i) I started off wanting to be a tall tales storyteller. I had striped pants and rainbow suspenders. When I decided I wanted to become more versatile in my telling, the pants and suspenders "bit the dust . . . " I still have people who want a teller in costume go ballistic when I tell them I do not costume . . . "can't you even wear a HAT of some kind?" I usually ask them what wearing a hat does to improve the story.
Steve O. 10/14/07

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COSTUMES - ADULT - VARIOUS TIME PERIODS AND EVENTS

 

Product links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time

Colonial General Adult Costume Adult (Standard (One-Size))
Includes: Collar with attached jabot, jacket with vest front and pants. Hat and boots not included.

Colonial - George Washington Adult
The George Washington costume includes: blue jacket with gold trim, grey vest, and grey pants. Jabot and wig (both may differ slightly from shown) sold separately. Boots not included.

Colonial - Pilgrim Woman Adult Costume
Includes dress with attached collar, apron and head scarf.

Colonial Wig - Adult Accessories Costumes Wigs Mens Royal Historical White Powdered Wig Costume Theme Party Accessory
Color: White
Wig is washable. Bow is removable
Material: Synthetic Hair

French Aristocrat Wig - Hats, Wigs & Masks
Curly long grey wig. One size fits most adults. We cannot accept wigs for return unless they are in their original packaging, unopened and sealed.

Pirate - Boot Covers - Adult
This is a BRAND NEW Accessory in its original packaging. It is an officially licensed product (we only sell the ‘real deal’, no imitations). Pirates Boot Covers - Adult - Officially Licensed Disney Pirates of the Caribbean Accessory.

Pirate - California Costume Men's Adult-Cutthroat Pirate
Includes a Black shirt with lace-up neck and White sleeves/collar, Red and Black striped pants, head tie, Black boot covers, Black belt and Black lace-up wrist cuffs.

Pirate Hat - Adult Black Tricorn Buccaneer
Customer: Very nice tricorn, soft to the touch, and reshapeable to your liking. There is a wide band of elastic inside the hat to keep it in place, which is perfect for a man's head, but moved around a little on my smaller female head. But not really a problem as it can be pinned in place very easily if needed. A very good buy.

Revolutionary War - Patriot Costume
Our Patriot costume features a blue jacket with attached gold vest, cuffs and accents, matching pants with attached black boot tops, white ascot, and hat.

Revolutionary War - Betsy Ross Costume (Size:Large 12-14)
Costume includes skirt and blouse with apron. Also includes shawl and hat. Flag not included.

Created 2006; last update 7/18/09

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