Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Storytellers undercover: I swear I am a folklorist!
And the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society (of which I am a member since... two weeks ago?)
It was Dr. Sobol's brilliant idea to apply with a panel on gaming, popular culture, and storytelling to the AFS conference about the Continuity and Creativity of Culture. Our small but powerful team of undercover superheeeerhm, I mean, storytellers, consisted of Kevin Cordi (representing improv role-playing and creative drama), Patrick Gerard (representing storytelling in video games), and yours truly (representing traditional tabletop). Our panel was scheduled for 8am on Saturday, which, given that the hotel was a corner away from a Friday night on Bourbon Street, was less than ideal, but that did not break our momentum at all.
New Orleans, by the way, is a lot of fun. I have been there four years ago, visiting my friend, Angela, and I have been planning on going back ever since. When I was not sitting in a folklore panel, we were wandering around in the French Quarter, visiting touristy places, eating good food, and listening to good music.
Milbre Burch and her husband presented an amazing two-hour panel on their project of interviewing 90 storytellers all around the USA, and gathering more than 200 hours of footage. They showed us snippets of this great project, and the familiar faces - Ray Hicks, Kathryn Windham, Dovie Thomason, Gioia Timpanelli, Olga Loya, and many others - were greeted with sighs and smiles and nods from the audience. They definitely had a lot of important things to say about stories and storytelling.
Kay Stone's presentation on the Grimm tales and their legacy was also fascinating. I have not heard Kay tell before, but Kevin drew my attention to her part in the program, and I was glad he did. Kay is a folklorist and a storyteller, and a great combination at that too! She told interesting variations of Grimm tales to illustrate her point: Japanese Hansel and Gretel, Native American Cinderella, original Snow White etc. It was as enjoyable as it was thought provoking, and especially appropriate for 2012. Grimm tales are in this year!
All in all, my first folklore conference felt like a success. I have been to archaeology conferences before, and had my fair share of storytelling gatherings. Folklorists are generally less talkative and sharing than storytellers, but as we have seen, there are exceptions on both sides, and plenty of crossover between the fields.
Also. New Orleans. Nuff said.