As I was saying, we had 6 amazing tellers.
Well, actually, we had 5 amazing tellers, and me :)
(Check out the HOLNEMVOLT Facebook page for photos!)
... Angela Davis, the Yarnspinner, from New Orleans, LA
... Tone Bolstad FLøde, from Norway
... César "El Wayqui" Villegas, from Perú
... Birgit Lehner, from Austria
... Csernik Szende, from Transylvania
... and me.
I have told with Angela and Wayqui before when they were in Hungary; I knew Birgit from FEST, and Szende because I have been to her performances, and she is a friend of Petra, the person who made Holnemvolt happen (she is a pastor of the lutheran church, also leads the gospel choir, is an opera singer and a midwife, and speaks like 5 languages, by the way). Tone was new for me; I have exchanged countless emails and messages with her, but never heard her tell. But what I knew about her I could tell she was an exceptional person :)
We started the festival with an olio, to show the audience what they can expect for the rest of the two days. To open the festival I told the story of Moses dividing the Red Sea (as an allegory to the festival, because someone had to take the first step to create a road to the other side). After that, every storyteller told a short story; they were all delightful and wonderful, and captured the audience at once. Birgit told a tale of the three wishes combined into one; Angela sang a funny song about how guys should not be trusted. Tone told the tale of the clever girl (going to the prince not dressed but not naked, not on foot but not ona horse... etc. you know the story don't you), Wayqui told a folktale about how all the birds got married except for the hen and the rooster. Szende sang a wonderful song, and told a short little tale too.
And then it was time for the rest of the day. Every teller had a one-hour performance to ourselves; and all the programs were great!
Angela opened with Swamp Party, her collection of Louisiana tales. I was the one translating for her, and let me tell you, I felt like Coyote holding on to the tail of a shooting star. The audience loved her; they laughed, they yelled, they smiled. She walked down into the audience and picked a guy to participate in the story; and she not only picked him, but also picked him up, and carried him onto the stage on her shoulder. You should have seen his face.
(She also happened to pick my dad to play a loup garou in the story; I was laughing so hard I had to stop translating)
After a short lunch break, Szende took over the stage; since she doesn't only tell stories, but also uses foot puppets, she had to sit on a table to let the audience see what she was doing. She was very cute, and pretty, and we were glad we did not need to translate her because she speaks a Transylvanian dialect and it is sometimes hard to understand even for us. Her performance of székely folktales (with lots of audience participation) was a great success.
The next teller was Tone, and I was very excited to finally hear her tell her viking tales. She was dressed in a Medieval costume, and so was her translator, Timi; they looked great together. Tone started humming a song, and we were instantly pulled into another world; I had a very strong sensation of traveling, and even the air seemed colder. We heard about the Norns, golden apples, viking warriors, Loki, and the World Tree; at some moments in the story, I felt goosebumps on my skin. She was that good.
Birgit followed, and we wandered into another world: the world of Roma folktales. She fell in love with gypsy culture a while ago, and she tells their wonderful stories and sings their beautiful songs. It was an interesting choice of a program; in Hungary, even though many Roma people live among us, most people barely know anything about their culture or heritage. Birgit did a great job opening that world up for us through stories.
The last performance of the day was Wayqui (since I was translating for him too, I made sure I had time to rest between the two). He brought us love stories from all over the world; he told us how the first act of love was invented, he told us a tale about a grain of sand who loved a star; he told us the story of the three princes who all loved the same girl, but in different ways. Wayqui has a very calm, strong way of telling; the audience would follow him anywhere.
And the day was far from over!
In the evening, we had a ghost story concert named "Esti kísértés" (kísértés has a double meaning in Hungarian: it both means temptation and haunting). The hall filled up with people; somehow everyone seemed interested in ghost stories for adults. In this program, every teller told one tale again. Some were frightening (like Angela's, who dressed up as an old woman, concealing her face with a shawl, and managed to creep out everyone just by showing up), others were funny (like Birgit's telling of The piper's revenge). Wayqui told a Medieval tale of a man who snored, and a princess who was always terrified; it was one cute love story if I ever heard one.
And when all the tales were told, we walked outside, and... erhm... noticed some flying lanterns that happened to float by (since the fire department does not quite approve of them), and watched them disappear into the dark sky until they were just moving stars among the real ones. Our wishes, wonders and stories traveled with them.
And so ended the first day of the Holnemvolt Festival.