Back in March I participated in Epic Day for the first time, telling a piece of the Irish story Táin bó Cúailnge together with a great group of storytellers in California. This weekend, I flew out to the West Coast once again for a repeat performance - Epic Day always happens twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. The idea behind it is the first time is a test run, where all the pieces fall into place and we hear the whole thing for the first time; the second iteration is a new and improved event, with much more practice behind it.
It ended up being pretty spectacular.
This time around we had 22 storytellers (myself included) and quite a few guests. It took us 8 hours to get through the whole story - including bathroom breaks and dinner, so the storytelling itself probably lasted about 6.5 hours. The lineup was slightly different (some people could not make it, and others took on their parts), and some parts of the story that we skipped last time made it into this iteration (Deirdre of the Sorrows, for example). This made the experience familiar, but also new and exciting in many ways. There were all the favorite parts we have all been looking forward to; but all the thought and work people have put into their parts since February also showed quite clearly.
For the sake of comparison, once again I kept a tally of the casualties. I only counted the deaths that happened "on screen" and were quantified. The final figures amounted to 2390 men, 3 women, 2 bulls 1 dog (that got killed twice, since we accidentally had Cú Chulainn's boyhood told on two separate occasions), and 2 pillows that burst from the furious wiggling of angered heroes.
(No joke, read the book)
As last time, the whole event was filled with dramatic high points, great battles, moments of hilarious exaggerations, and also scenes of drama and deep emotions. Once again we learned that this story works much better - in fact works incredibly well - in oral telling. There is nothing like seeing elegant Erika Lann-Clark bat her eyelashes and sweetly tell Queen Medb's husband "You are a kept man," or Tim Ereneta say "I shall stand over your like a cat's tail erect" with a completely straight face and a thunderous voice.
All in all, Epic Day once again lived up to its name. We are in the process of picking the new epic for next year. I can't wait to see what it is going to be!