Friday, April 11, 2008

Sharing the Fire - The first spark

What a nice name for a storytelling conference, huh? You imagine nice friendly candles, colorful Chinese lanterns, lamps with flickering flames, torches in dark hallways of castles and campfires surrounded by moths and stories...
Well, for me, it was rather like a badass bushfire.

I just finished reading Neil Gaiman's Stradust - the most fascinating part of the whole book is the fairy market at the beginning. All kinds of miracles, people in colorful clothes, elves, goblins, faeries, wizards, flowers, colors, voices, music, stories stories stories...
Well, this is pretty much the same picture as the one that greeted us when we arrived at Crowne Plaza in Nashua, NH. Outside it was a miserable weather with puring rain - inside, well.... inside it was the inside of a very fancy hotel completely taken over by storytellers and so turned upside down. I just arrived to the front desk when I got run over by a whirlwind which was yelling "Csenge weeeeeee" in the voice of Meg Gillman, closely followed by a second, tiny and elegant one, Karen Chace. Felt like coming home.
(*humming* "Csenge got run over by the tellers...")
Check-in, greetings, finding my way across the corridors of the hotel; and then it was time for dinner, cheese and fruits (hey, I'm a college student, I eat whatever is free, and I have no problem refilling my plate). I was handed from teller to teller, introduced to dozens of people, and repeated the story of my life way too many times (although it got shorter and shorter with every telling, sic transit gloria mundi).
And then the fun began. We got some Irish music, and lots of greetings; then we got some storytelling, of course of course, young children of all ages can't go to bed without their bedtime stories...
Said stories were presented to us by five great tellers: Simon Brooks (and he just rocked. Every guy with a bodhrán rocks. Especially when he has a great story to tell), Meredith Bird Miller (fun story well told - we all just love the tales when the animal people can send their eyes out of their sockets), Uncle George Radcliffe (now he is a master, isn't he - he told the Tiger's Whisker from a female point of view, and we didn't care for a second), Jean Armstrong (lovely funny single lady), Roberta Burke (tell me more wonderful tales like that granny!) and finally Cora Jo Ciampi (and hearing her version of Cinderella we all just wanted her to be our Fairy Godmother...).
After applauding till our palms turned red, it was time for the open mike - more stories, more tellers, more fun (I like open mikes because you can never know what you'll hear). And when it was over too, I got introduced to another new person, a guy called Tony Toledo - Karen told me he is completely harmless (next think I know, he scared the hell outta me with the yelling and the jumping up and down - yeah, well, he is a true trickster) and we got invited to the secret storytelling evening meeting, with beer that bit back and pretzels filled with peanut butter, and lots of chatting and laughing and telling stories.
By the time I got back to my room, it was past midnight and my head barely touched the pillow before I passed out...
And so began the 27. Annual Sharing the Fire Storytelling Conference.
And the flames rose high...

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