Sunday, June 21, 2015

Story Saturday: Night of the Museums

Story Saturday falls on a Sunday this week. Reason: I spent yesterday in Budapest at the annual Night of Museums, and was too busy to write. Today I am catching up with a full report on some museum storytelling fun :)

I started the afternoon (after getting fabulous Northern Lights-themed make-up done by a friend of mine) at the Hungarian National Museum - and with that, checked another dream museum venue off my bucket list. Incidentally, their theme for this year was Dreams, and they invited me to do two shows, one for kids, and one for adults.
The children's storytelling took place in the crafts room where kids could paint and draw dream creatures; one corner had a carpet and a pile of pillows ready for listening. The room was not very spacious, and it filled up very quickly with children and their parents - about a dozen families or so. I told tales that featured dreams and dreaming in some form: A story about a baku that eats bad dreams, the King's daughter who lost her hair, Ma Liang's magic paintbrush, and La noche del tatú. The little stars in the corners of my eyes didn't last long with all the eye-rubbing I did for the stories; as they fell to the carpet, a little girl immediately collected them for souvenirs. I also had the world's best-behaved two-year-old in the audience, who just happened to have my name.
The adult show took place on the stairs of the museum's main hall; people sat on pillows on the stairs, and I stood below them on the landing. I got a microphone which carried my voice through the echoing main hall and over the noise of people streaming up and down the parallel stairwell. At first I thought I would have some moving traffic, but the stairs soon filled up with listeners, and I ended up with about thirty people sitting through the entire one-hour show (including some well-behaved kids who had parental supervision). I told an Aesop's fable about Zeus inventing dreams (a new addition to my mythology repertoire), a folktale from the Inner Hebrides about the Makers of Dreams (I have wanted to try this one for a long time, it's a gorgeous story); I told Zal and Rudabeh because I could (it does feature a prophetic dream at one point) and it worked miracles as usual; and in closing I told the legend of Angus Og and Caer. The loud, echoing quality the microphone gave my voice was strange at first, but I managed to play with it so it actually added to the storytelling atmosphere. The audience was smiling and very attentive. Adults shows are awesome, because I can tell all the longer, more poetic tales...

After the two dream-shows I traveled across town to Óbuda and climbed a hill to get to the second venue of the night: the Polaris Observatory. The sun was setting when I got there, but they already had telescopes set up on the roof, and people peering at the moon and the evening star. I arrived early enough to sit in on a presentation about the history of telescopes, and learned a lot from it. My own theme was the Northern Lights (hence the make-up and the costuming), and by the time 9pm rolled around the room was so full we started worrying about fire regulations - we easily had 50 adults and children, if not more... In one hour, I had ample time to tell all 5 stories I prepared (see my previous Folklore Thursday post), and they all worked great! I started with Lindu, and then told Niekija (the longest of the five). After the two love stories I decided to go a little darker, and told Lights in a Bottle - there was an adorable and very vocal five-year-old girl in the front row who made comments about the story. I was worried at first that she would be scared of the ghosts in the bottle, but the story itself took care of the issue, by making the Lights chase the ghosts away. Next I told the Scottish legend about the Merry Dancers; the boys in the back cheered loudly for the fighting and the rain of blood. I bought a bracelet made of heliotrope earlier that morning to be able to show the kids what the "blood-stained" rocks look like, and after the show they all lined up to inspect the bracelet up close. I closed the hour with the Estonian story about sleighs in the sky (probably the most cheerful of the five), and let the audience go so they could observe the star-lit night sky from the roof.

All in all, it was a perfect afternoon/evening of storytelling. I especially loved how Night of the Museums made me create two entirely new themed shows. I am definitely keeping them.

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