Despite the gloomy weather and the drip drip drip at the edge of the tents, the Festival marched on with unbreakable momentum. Thousands of people warmed the tents with sheer enthusiasm (and additional body heat). Here is a quick and completely subjective list of the highlights, round one.
Jay O'Callahan's Forged in the stars has been one of my favorites. NASA did right to commission him. He told his true stories with a passion, and chose just the right stories to tell. All through the performance I kept thinking about Helga, my ex-roomie and friend, who is studying Astronomy in Australia right now, and who used to do a "star stories" program with me back in Hungary. If I ever get a chance to work with her again, and get to create something 1% as awesome as Jay O'Callahan, I will be extremely pleased with myself.
Michael Harvey got on this list (on top of being a kickass storyteller) because of his story choice: I would endure cold rain and picking up tent garbage any time any day if I get to listen to a full-hour telling of Taliesin. Insert heart flutter here. Taliesin was one of the first stories I started telling as a completely green little storyteller, and I have a soft spot for it in my heart. Especially when someone has the time to do it justice. Michael has a great sense of humor, by the way. Just sayin'.
Hannah Harvey amazed me with the depth and breadth (see how I can spell 'breadth' at 11:30 at night!!!) of her telling. She put years of work into collectiong coal miner stories and crafting them into performance, and it shows; she took us on a journey on a road she knows well, and entertained us in her mischievous and at the same time deeply caring ways.
Alton Chung was another big favorite for me this year. His one-hour show, Life is the treasure, about Okinawa and its people during and after WWII, went to places where not many storytelling performances dare to go. It was dark, and shockingly real, and at the same time still uplifting, as it transcended the reality of war and told stories that stand the test of time. Alton puts on characters and faces like the demon is his ghost story, which is slightly unnerving to think about, but absolutely amazing to watch.
Gay Ducey's tribute to Kathryn Windham on Sunday morning floored me. I have only heard Kathryn once, five years ago, but I have heard so much about her, she has been constantly present in the background of my storytelling journey. Gay is an all-time favorite of mine. I loved the little story she told about Kathryn setting out on a quest one day to find a snake handler, because she had a sudden urge to have a conversation with one. I feel like that level of child-like curiosity and energy is something that should be a mandatory part of the curriculum.
Right now I am falling asleep on the keyboard. I'll be back with more shameless fangirl ranting bright and early tomorrow. Good night everyone!