New Storytelling Radio Program
KSVY-FM 91.3, Sonoma, CA
Sundays, 5-6 pm Pacific time (adjust for your time zone)
Live audio streaming: Go to the KSVY website. In the upper
right-hand corner, click on High or Low Speed and find
yourself listening to the live program.
Or access the archives later and download.
Oct 1 An Enchanted Garden of Seeds and Stories!
(The Pumpkin's Tale)
Tom and Sandy Farley
(The Sower and Mikku and the Trees)
(The Giant Turnip; The Rabbit and the Crab; and The Stolen Drum)
Theme music: Special thanks to Petra Koch in Germany (she works with Storyteller Richard Martin), who performed the beautifully haunting alto recorder music of Como Podem from the 13th century collection Cantigas de Santa Maria (copy of Kynsecker, Mollenhauer & Co.). Used on this program with her kind permission.
• Martha Hamilton, New York — Clytie
Martha works with her husband, Mitch Weiss, as tandem storytellers under the name Beauty and the Beast Storytellers.
Who's the Beauty and who's the Beast?
We never tell - You decide!
'Beauty and the Beast' tell stories for all ages, and in settings ranging from elementary school assemblies to theaters, college coffeehouses, and senior citizen centers. They bring to life traditional folktales from around the world, works by contemporary authors, stories from their own experiences, and tales based on historical people and events. Drawing from their large and varied repertoire, they tailor each performance to suit the specific audience. In their performances, Mitch and Martha use gesture, song, mime, and audience participation. Their specialty is tandem storytelling where they combine their contrasting styles, swapping lines and impersonating characters.
Mitch and Martha have traveled as far as Taiwan and Hong Kong to perform and teach others to tell. All of their books have been published in Taiwan because it is such a priority to learn English on the island, and teachers of English have found that storytelling is one of the best ways to get students excited about a new language. "Beauty and the Beast" have also completed numerous tours of European International Schools. Among the places they have told stories are Prague, Vienna, Munich, Florence, Milan, Genoa, Madrid, Moscow, London, and Budapest.
For more information on their performances, go to:
Excerpts from an interview with Martha:
Q. Martha, would you tell us a little about your storytelling life and what you do?
A. My husband Mitch Weiss and I have been telling stories for over 25 years together and most of that time it’s been full-time. We tell stories, we teach storytelling, we do a lot of teaching students to tell stories, students of all ages. Well, that’s it in a nutshell, I guess. 1.31 We’ve written a lot of books that are a result of our work as well.
Q. So how did you get started as a storyteller?
A. Well, actually, I was a librarian. And when I say that to people they think that I must have been a children’s librarian. And actually I was a reference librarian at a university... but when I was in graduate school, I had a friend who was taking a storytelling class—while I was taking all these classes for, my, you know, college reference courses—and it just sounded like so much fun. So that’s how I originally heard about it and then when I was working as a librarian I went to a conference and actually I went into the wrong room for a workshop and I realized that I was in the wrong room, but I decided that I was going to stay because it was on storytelling and I though,t well, maybe there’s a reason why I came in here by accident and that’s really where it started. I heard these three different women who were librarians tell stories and I don’t know who they were or anything—it was, you know, gosh, almost 30 years ago. But that’s really what planted the seed... It took me a year to tell my first story. I was so nervous about doing it, but once I did it, I just wanted to do it more and more, and I started doing it very much just as a hobby, then I met Mitch and things really took off after that.
Q. Who did you tell your first story to, kids or adults?
A. ...Of course, we all tell stories all the time, but the first story I told to a group was to the storytelling group that I had been going to for a year. They met once a month and every meeting they would say, 'Martha, when are you going to tell a story?' ...There were maybe ten people in the group, and I had chosen The Velveteen Rabbit... And you know it probably took 20 minutes to tell that story and it was a very bad choice for your first story. I was terrified that I was going to forget or not do it justice... The woman who had started the whole group called me up one day and said, 'We really need storytellers for this festival we’re having next week,' and I said 'Well, I can’t tell The Velveteen Rabbit yet, and she said, "Forget The Velveteen Rabbit, just pick a short folktale and be there next week, and that really was what I needed, was just to do it... That is always the advice that I give to people who are just starting out that you really just have to jump in, take the risk and get your feet wet.
Q. Today, you’re going to tell us the story of Clytie. Tell us how you came across that story and how you decided to do it.
A. Well, it’s interesting... because that’s on our recording but I hardly ever tell the story because that recording is in our book Stories in My Pocket, which we essentially wrote. Mostly they are stories when we’re working in a classroom that we have kids tell... I did that for the recording and I have told it a couple of other times, but because we’ve heard so many kids tell it in classes, it’s just not one I normally tell... It’s from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, but I think the versions we mainly used for rewriting were from the collections of nature myths for children.
New Books Just Out and More on the Way!
If we ruled the world, children would be encouraged and given numerous opportunities to tell stories - folktales from various cultures, stories written by their favorite authors, and, of course, their own stories. This would be done formally and informally, to one person and in front of a group, in school and at home. Teaching children to tell stories helps them to find their own voices. It also creates excitement about reading and writing their own stories. When we work in classrooms teaching students to tell, teachers note that students are really excited about reading and telling more tales from our books. They love all kinds of stories - from silly to serious, from pourquoi tales that explain something peculiar about an animal or natural phenomenon to "noodlehead" stories about fools from which children, surprisingly, learn a great deal. But if we had to choose their most beloved genre of stories for telling, it would undoubtedly be scary tales. Stories such as "Tilly," "The Golden Arm," and "On a Dark and Stormy Night" from Stories in My Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell have always been huge favorites in every classroom where we've taught student tellers.
For a full listing of books and recordings by the Beauty & the Beast Storytellers, go to:
Beauty & the Beast Storytellers
Mitch Weiss and Martha Hamilton
954 Coddington Road Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 277-0016 Fax: (607) 277-0968
• Bob Reiser, New York — The Pumpkin's Tale
Bob is an expansive and joyous storyteller, teacher, and an award-winning author of books for children and adults. Accompanying himself with flute and drum, Bob brings warmth and wit to traditional and original stories. Recently his performing has been featured at New York's Clearwater Hudson River Festival, Rhode Island's Johnnycake Festival, and the annual National Storytelling Network Conference. McFarland Press listed him among the "120 best contemporary English-speaking Storytellers." Dr. Morgan Hill (Brother Blue) calls him a "force of nature."
Grandpa Abe: The First Family Raconteur
Born in April 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, I just missed being a baby-boomer. My parents were radicals while the rest of the country tiptoed through the conservative 1950s; I grew up Jewish while everyone on TV celebrated Christmas. I was too young to be a beatnik and too old to be a hippie. It was my perch from the outside that made the world look like a story.
Born to tell stories.
Mom and dad wanted me to be a doctor. But it was not to be. The world of stories beckoned! An M. A. in theater from NYU Drama School, a stint at Chicago's Second City Improvisational group, and comedy sketches for some forgotten TV shows finished my education. I even toured with my own comedy troupe, The Portable Radio Circus. In 1976, I settled into full-time writing, including collaboration on two books with folk singer and community-organizer Pete Seeger.
The turn to storytelling came in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. Wandering around the square, I saw a hand-made "dream catcher" almost ten feet tall standing in front of a shop. Inside, the counter was covered with little clay figures of seated grandfathers and grandmothers with laps full of grandchildren; "storytellers" the proprietor called them. Then she told me how each winter, the elders come into homes with their stories. "Each day they sit with the family, close their eyes and dream the stories of long ago -- Stories of the sky and the earth and the spirits and the animals. The children grow quiet and listen; even the adults who have heard the stories listen." I ran outside and told my wife, "Sandy, when I grow old, I want to be a storyteller!" "Why wait until you are old?" she said - a sensible answer.
I began collecting stories; I began writing them. Finally I got up my courage and I began telling them, and fell in love with audiences as well. That was nine years ago. The love affair continues.
Excerpts from an interview with Bob:
Q. Bob, tell me a little bit about just your storyteller path, how you became a storyteller and what you do now as a storyteller.
A. Oh, great. That’s a question I love to answer because it’s a story. About 12 years ago, my wife and I were out west in Taos, NM, which is really a beautiful, beautiful area, and we were in the town of Taos, which is a traditional Native American place... The Indians live there and they don’t have electricity. They try to keep it very traditional for people who want to live that kind of a life. But they’ve got lots of shops there and boutiques, so I had seen from the sidewalk this enormous dreamcatcher. It must have been about 10 feet across. And it was like a beacon and pulled me into the store.
It was a little shop, it had no lights in it, and it was hard to see. And I started talking to the woman there about her dreamcatcher and she said that her husband had been working on it for years and it wasn’t for sale... I said, don’t worry, I didn’t want to buy it—there would be no way to get it home—and then I noticed that she had these little dolls, little play dolls, men or women seated with little children around them. I had been seeing them all over town, I saw them everywhere. And she said those were storytellers.
Now, I couldn’t imagine how that could be a storyteller because to me storytellers were people who entertained at children’s parties and they wore funny hats, so they just didn’t look like storytellers. But she said, 'No...in the winter, it’s very cold here and you don’t want the grandparents to freeze so we invite them into our houses to spend time with us and they’ll sleep on the sofa or we put out a bed for them in the dining room and they’re safe there, but they don’t want to just stay and do nothing for their keep, so they’ll spend the winter—or as long as they stay there—telling stories. And they’ll tell stories about where we came from, where the animals came from. They’ll tell stories for the children, and every evening the family will sit around as they tell all the old stories, and when they feel they have no more stories to tell, they’ll move on and stay with another family.'
I was so—tears were running down my face by the time she finished, because it was such a beautiful idea of what stories meant, and about a society where nobody was wasted, nobody was thrown away. And I walked out and my wife had been walking on the street. I said, 'You know, when I get old, I’m going to be a storyteller.' She said 'Well, you don’t have to wait until you’re old.' She doesn’t remember saying that, but I’m sure she did. And I said, 'Oh, no, I guess I don’t,' but it took about a year and a half after that that I finally got up the nerve to tell a story.
Q. How did you know what to do?
A Well, I didn’t, actually... I joined a local guild of storytellers—actually, what let me know that there was a whole world of storytellers out there was Storytelling Magazine that was available then at all the big book stores—and I said...there’s a whole lot of people doing this, and I found out there was a guild that met not too far from where we lived. But about a year later I was at an event, and I had still not told a story. Somebody said, 'Well, Bob, you keep telling us you’re a storyteller, so why don’t you tell a story? Well, I had been trying to get up nerve enough to do this for a long time, so I sat there and I...
The only thing I knew about telling stories was what the woman in the store had told me. She said, 'If you’ll notice on the dolls, their eyes are closed. That’s because they’re dreaming the story.' So I said to myself, okay, I’m going to close my eyes and I’m going to dream the story. So I closed my eyes and I started to tell the story of Jumping Mouse. And as I was telling the story, I heard it got very quiet and I still didn’t have the nerve to open my eyes and I kept watching the story with my closed eyes and telling what I saw, and then I opened my eyes about halfway through the story—I finally got my nerve—and people were staring and listening with an intensity... I’d never seen that and nobody ever listens to me that closely. What I was doing was—the main thing a storyteller has to do is to visualize the story, to see the story as you’re telling it. So I didn’t know any better, but I did the right thing.
Q. The story you’re going to tell us today is one you wrote yourself, so tell us about that. It’s called The Pumpkin’s Tale.
A. I had gotten a little program I was reviewing for a local newspaper, a little computer program for writing... to teach children how to write, creative writing, and so in this program there would be pictures instead of words. So instead of spelling out "apple" and typing it out, there would be a picture of an apple and they could just plug it into their story. So I started typing and I typed out, "There once was an…" and I looked over all the different pictures and saw a pumpkin and I plugged in the pumpkin and I kept writing... "who was in love with a…" and I looked over there and saw a carrot, so I plugged that in, "a pumpkin in love with a carrot" and from there on, I just let my imagination go and the story came out. It took about a year and several retellings of it and fooling around with it to polish it enough. You never know where you a story is going to come from….#####
Bob's CDs and Books:
Foibles and Fiddlesticks
Whimsy and fun are not just for the under-nine-year-old set; oldsters over eleven years have a right to giggle too. The seven stories include Bob's signature pieces like The Pumpkin's Tale and The Swan Tenor as well as new stories like Petey and Delilah (told with Andrea Lovett). It is dedicated to Storytelling's Prince of Fables, Brother Blue.
Chopped Herring and Other Brooklyn Tales
A storytelling version of an old photo album, includes six stories that conjure up the smells, sounds and indigestible foods of growing up in 1940s Brooklyn . Bob invites listeners to join Captain Midnight, Superman and Izzie the appetizing king to share his Child's Garden of Flatbush .
David Get His Drum
Published by Marshall Cavendish Co. Co-written with Jazz Great, the late Panama Francis and illustrated by award-winning artist, Eric Velasquez. This is a story about a child learning to understand the magic that flows from his heart and hands - The magic of music.
As Panama Francis said, "I am a drummer man. For seventy years I have beat out that dancing sound for people to hear... Every time I see folks smile and tap their feet to the rhythm, I feel as happy as I did on the day I first beat a pair of sticks on an old tin can."
15 Oak Ave.
Tarrytown, NY 10591
You may also reach Bob via:
The Westchester Arts Council
914-428-4220 (ask for Jonatha Mann or Ayeshah Wiltshire)
New York Arts Connection
Joanna Hefferen - 212-302-7433 x 486
• Tom and Sandy Farley, Redwood City, CA — The Sower and Mikku and the Trees
Tom and Sandy Farley are married and are tandem storytellers.
Storytelling and Story Writing for All Ages
Tandem telling is two or more tellers sharing one story. Tom and Sandy bring together their experience with solo telling, improvisation, story theatre, and cooperative recreation, all of which they also teach.
Since 1979, they have been telling traditional and contemporary stories for schools, libraries, book stores, hospitals, churches, summer camps, fairs, Kiwanis Clubs, corporate events, birthdays, etc. Themes they like include: conflict resolution, youth empowerment, cultural diversity, disabilities, wisdom, and where stories come from.
Based in Redwood City, CA, they perform most often between San Francisco and San Jose, but they do travel beyond the Bay Area to do performances and workshops, usually for Kiwanis or Quaker related events.
Excerpts from an interview with Tom and Sandy:
Q. Tell us about being tandem tellers.
A. (Tom) Well, it’s an interaction. It’s sharing a story. And tandem—actually, we think of it as two tellers, but it could be three. Our daughter has done tandem telling with us in a threesome at times in North Carolina. But it came for us out of story theatre, which is another form of shared story—multiple teller or performers, staging a story where you narrate your own character’s actions, a story that is passed around among actors, one for each character.
And we were doing that…with children, where we would tell them the story, they would tell it back to us, and we never used a written script, so that literacy was not an issue among the children of various ages.
A. (Sandy) And they loved doing it because they had the power to make up their own lines knowing the situation, and they just performed beautifully and there was no stumbling as you sometimes get with kids' theatre, trying to remember their lines.
A. (Tom) In fact, they would trade parts around. If someone was missing, anyone else … everyone else knew it, could cover for them. We did that kind of work recently with a sixth grade in Redwood City and on the day of the performance somebody wasn’t there and one of the others said, “Oh, so and so isn’t here…wait a minute, I know his lines,” and he ran to the other side of the stage so he could enter from the right direction and he played the other part. And we were starting to perform and it was figuring this out on the fly.
Q. Were you married when you started tandem telling?
A. (Tom) Yes.
Q. And had both of you been single tellers before?
A. (Both) No.
(Tom) I have a master’s in theatre… I did my thesis on improvisation and Quakerism. We’re both Quakers... Sandy was part of my thesis project, along with a number of other people in a performing group, and along with that we were doing improvised story as part of improvised theatre... that led from improvised story and story theatre with children to interactive storytelling or to solo telling once we got our sense of story…
Q. Does it ever cause any problems between the two of you?
A. (Both) No. No.
(Sandy) Some people wonder, you know, how we maintain a good relationship, but ego doesn’t enter into it on this. It’s a matter of we are together telling stories.
(Tom) And sometimes we’ll look at it as who’s going to tell the story and who’s going to do the interrupting. Or who's the narrator...
(Sandy) Who gets to play all the other fun parts.
Q. You work a lot with kids, don’t you? Tell me a little bit about that…
A. (Tom) Yes. I work at summer camp at the Ben Lomond Quaker Center in the Santa Cruz mountains, and that’s where I get to do solo telling because often Sandy is not available at camp... sometimes I’ve recruited other counselors or campers to tell stories with me. And those are often stories of … stories about issues dealing with truth and responsibility and making things right, environmental issues or social issues.
Q. Is it fulfilling to work with kids in that way?
A. (Tom) Yes, particularly when you tell a story and say, “Have you ever been in a situation like that?” and one of them says, “Oh, yeah, I remember when …” and so on. We tell a story that has in it the big ugly hairy yellow troll who grabs these little children who try to cross the bridge without an adult and then we talk about has anyone ever told you big ugly hairy yellow troll stories and it becomes a catch phrase that the campers can use to kind of reference, "Oh that’s a big ugly hairy yellow troll story, I don’t believe that!"
Learn more about Tom and Sandy at:
Our Storytelling Page introduces their tandem telling style with links to our program offerings and their two CDs of stories Words to the Wise and Words Go Questing.
Our Writing Page introduces their fiction for younger readers and families, articles, and teaching aids including Earthcare for Children, a First Day School Curriculum.
Tom and Sandy are members of Palo Alto Meeting of the Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends [Quakers].
For an informal e-mail list on Quaker topics, go to the Yahoo! Group called Dry Clean Only [because most Friends don't practice water baptism.]
They are developing a page of Quaker Youth links to Quaker meetings, schools, camps, and youth projects including a list of films on peace and war issues for family viewing.
AVP - the Alternatives to Violence Project is an international network of groups offering basic and advanced workshops and training for facilitators.
HIPP -Help Increase the Peace Project is the adaptation of AVP for teen and preteen groups. They are available as facilitators for workshops in HIPP, AVP, creative conflict resolution, and cooperative recreation.
Ben Lomond Quaker Center is a conference center set in 80 acres of redwood and oak forest near SantaCruz, California. The center offers workshops in Quaker process, personal growth, spiritual concerns and social action. They help with two week-long summer camps there for ages 9 to 12 and 12 to 15.
The Sleepwetting Forum is a web-site they created for family-to-family support in understanding, managing, and working to resolve sleepwetting [a.k.a. bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis] and other loss of bladder control by school-age children and teens.
misc.kids.moderated is a parenting newsgroup they helped create in 1997. For more about thebackground and goals of m.k.m and related parenting newsgroups, go to http://www.misckids.org
Kiwanis International supports service projects for youth and families in our community and around the world. They are members of the Bayshore Community Kiwanis Club of East Palo Alto.
Tom and Sandy's CDs may be ordered at:
• CD Baby
• Linden Tree Children's Books and Recordings
• or Spontaneous Combustion
Contact Tom and Sandy at:
• Jackie Baldwin, Sonoma, CA— The Giant Turnip; The Rabbit and the Crab; The Stolen Drum
Taken from Jackie's book An Enchanted Garden of Seeds and Stories — Eight folktales about plants that are somehow involved in people's lives with eight packets of seeds to go with the stories. More about this book at:
More information about
Winner of the 2006 National Storytelling Network's Oracle Award for Distinguished National Service
Recipient of a 2006 NSN grant for scholarly research in the field of storytelling
SOS: Searching Out Stories http://www.story-lovers.com/listsofstories.html
About Story-Lovers and Jackie: http://www.story-lovers.com/jackie.html
What Others Have to Say: http://www.story-lovers.com/testimonials.html
New Book: An Enchanted Garden of Seeds and Stories!
New Collection of Public Domain Stories and Illustrations: Come Sit on Grandma's Knee! http://www.story-lovers.com/grandmasknee.html
Board member of Storytelling Association of Alta, California (S.A.A.C.)
Board member of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA)
Producer of Teller-to-Teller, S.F. Bay Area regional sharing events for professional storytellers
Producer and host of Story-Lovers World!, a weekly radio storytelling program on KSVY 91.3, Sonoma
Contact Jackie at:
P.O. Box 446, Sonoma, CA 95476
(Page created 8/14/06; updated 8/31/06; 9/4/06; 9/16/06; 9/30/06)