Cathy Jo Janssen, my fabulous roommate and partner in crime, quickly became the heart and soul of the operation. We enlisted six storytellers from the ETSU program, many of whom had already participated in our forst MythOff, or at least listened ot us endlessly talking about it.
The first step was to decide who is telling what. For this reason we organized a house party where all the tellers were invited (in the meantime, our numbers grew to eight). We prepared three drawing hats for the party: first, every teller drew a mythology; the second drawing decided the pairs of who is going up against who; and from the final hat the pairs selected their common theme. With all of that done, it was time to prepare our stories.
While the storytellers were busy researching, crafting and rehearsing, Cathy and I took care of promotion. We invited people through the MythOff Facebook site, and Cathy designed posters that feature Loki, and put them up all around town. This latter campaign ran into some promblems since some good-hearted Tennessee citizens expressed concerns that the posters featured the Devil, bless their heart, but there was always a Marvel nerd nearby when we needed them to correct the mistake.
The biggest win of the MythOff project was the venue, and once again, we have Cathy to thank for that. She managed to coax the staff of Capone's, a very nice old bar downtown, to give us the Vault for free. The Vault is the back room of the bar with a unique 19th century feel to it, dim lights, mirrors, a bar, and a small stage in the corner. As perfect as a storytelling venue is ever going to get. The staff of Capone's was good sport, and they did not only provide a lovely bartender for the evening, but also sent us bouncers, and set up the whole sound system.
And, without further ado, here is the set list of the second MythOff USA:
In the Egyptian corner: Gini Richards, with the story of Isis and Osiris
In the East African corner: Carolina Quiroga, with the tale of Solomon and the Queen of Saba
Both ladies were excellent in their telling, blending humor with emotion, and the music of words with vivid images. The winner was a very close call in the end.
In the Inca corner: Patrick Gerard, telling the myth of Manco Capac and the golden staff, the latter being represented by an actual golden staff he used a prop
In the Mesopotamian corner: Joshua Sellers, telling the myth of Anzu and the Tablets of Destiny
In the Norse corner: Paul Herrin, with the story of Helvör and her magic sword
In the Persian corner: Travis Wolven, with the legend of Gordafarid from the epic Shahnameh
One could not have chosen a better combination for this round. It was two guys, telling myths of warrior women, and two mythologies that are really strong in that department.
In the Japanese corner: Meg Zinky, with a story about a Kitsune lady
In the Thai corner: yours truly (Csenge Zalka), with a piece from the Thai epic Ramakien, about Hanuman's journey to Longka
I had endless fun preparing for this challenge. When I drew Indonesia and Tricksters, my first thought, naturally, was Mouse Deer... but Mouse Deer, epic as he is, is not really mythology. So I kept seaching, and came across the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Ramayana, with more monkeys in it. I spent the past week reading the English translation of the epic, and trying to cut a part of it down to ten minutes. I rehearsed in the shower - and I found out that apparently I take really long showers, because I ended up going overtime...
The Price of Persuasion, for the most persuasive trickster, represented by a blue-and-white glittery flute, naturally went to the foxy lady.
We even had a door prize: when Cathy was putting up posters, the local comic book store was so enthusiastic about the event that they gave her a Loki comic, which, in the end of the night, went to our timekeeper, Brandon, because he was the only one whi put his name in the hat.
All in all, the MythOff was a success, and an endless amount of fun! Great stories told, great lessons learned, great performances all around, and a very enthusiastic, supportive audience. We are definitely doing it again. Next time we plan on having 6 tellers instead of 8 (hard to stick to the numbers though when everyone is so eager to tell), and give them 15 minutes instead of 10. There is a lot of stuff in mythology that has to be said and done.
Footnote: if you are interested in the MythOff format, feel free to ask! The Guardians of the Idea support the spreading of MythOff all over the globe! Let us know if you have questions, or if you would like to organize your own MythOff, and we will help you along the way!