Spring, 2010

A Spring Break and How to Eat an Elephant

Yes, I am delayed in writing this newsletter. I have just come up for air from a whirlwind of activity that began in January and concluded last weekend. When I looked at all that I had to accomplish in those four short months, I kept coming back to the question: “How Do You Eat An Elephant?” …….“One bite at a time!” That is what these last months have felt like and I’ve just risen from the table for a break, that is before the dessert.

Smack at the beginning of January, I flew to DC to give a performance for the Woodburn School for the Fine and Communicative Arts. This was a prestigious booking, as they are a Kennedy Center-affiliated school. Two days prior, I lost my voice. I scrambled on Facebook to all my storytelling friends asking what I could do to ensure that I would have my voice on the date of performance. Everyone told me to stop talking! This I did, and the performance went very well. However, that meant that all the social plans that I had made with my DC friends were nixed.

In mid- January, I launched the Ventura Village Voices Adult Storytelling Series, held on a quarterly basis at the Ventura Improv Company Theatre. Our first performers were LA-based storytellers Michael McCarty and Ina Buckner-Barnette who delivered wonderful stories that celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday. Also in January, I began to organize myself for all the tasks that had to be undertaken for the 27th Annual Southern California StorySwap, an annual event for all southern California story swap groups/guilds. It was my turn to take the baton and the event was held at the Dudley House on April 17th. At the same time, I began to look for a new space for the Ventura County Storytelling Guild. Although our location at Bell Arts had served us well for the year we were there, our attendee demographics suggested that perhaps we should look for something in the Camarillo area. I found a very sweet space at the Proverbs Coffeehouse on the grounds of the Peace Lutheran Church in Camarillo. Our meetings are as originally scheduled, that being the first Thursday of the month, but we now meet from 7-9 p.m. They even have free cappuccino!

As co-chair of the National Storytelling Conference’s All Regions concert, January was also spent with co-chair Ellen Switkes, sitting on my couch for several days, pouring through hours of performance tapes of those hoping to be chosen for this prestigious event. In March, I was honored to be asked to give a workshop on Storytelling and Leadership to the Ventura County Office of Education Leadership Team. I had taken many workshops on the subject myself while living in Washington, DC and it was just a matter of refreshing myself on the various type of leadership stories and their narrative structures. The workshop was well-received and in 1 ½ hours I heard approximately 160 different leadership stories!

The second week of April, I was on the bill with Steve Henegar of Orange County, at the Ventura Village Voices Adult Storytelling Series and got to see the results of my efforts at the 27th Annual Southern California StorySwap, with the help of the Ventura County Storytelling guild and students from Foothill Technology School the day of. What I would have done without them, I don’t know!

In the midst of this, of course were school performances, showcases and much more. Life has a way of rewarding a good effort, as I just found out this week that I was chosen to perform at the National Storytelling Conference Pacific showcase at the end of July. If you this read this in time, perhaps you can catch my performance at the local performer showcase for Ventura County at the Ojai Storytelling Festival.

After the Ojai performance on April 30th, it will be time for dessert and I plan to start the cycle of researching new material for some new ideas that have been incubating for some time now. Ahh, I believe I can smell the coffee!

Elaine Muray

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