Thursday, July 28, 2005

The gig I could have skipped....

A storytelling friend from the East Coast had what she called a "storyteller's nightmare" earlier this week. She had some personal crises occur, and what with one thing and another, she spaced out a gig she had. She was completely embarrassed, called to apologize, the program was rescheduled, and went off beautifully, no surprise to those of us who know her...Karen!

My storyteller's nightmare was a bit different. I could have missed my gig, and no one would have noticed. As a member of our local storytelling guild, the Bluff Country Talespinners, I will respond to calls asking for members to tell at an event. Sometimes the guild receives payment, and if not, they sign a contract with us sharing the value of our services. This was one of the latter types of events. The event was the end of summer reading blowout, always a joyous event in the minds of the Youth Services Library staff. This event was extra-special, as a popular children's performer in our area, Hans Mayer, would be doing his last show here before moving to Orcas Island near Vancouver. Our tellers would be doing the pre- and post-show sets. I was scheduled to tell the very last story, a wonderful short story from the Mexican borderlands called "The Boy and the Devil." It's a great closer for a library program, as it features a hero who outwits the Devil by virtue of his reading skills. I couldn't wait to try it on this large and eager audience of kids. I was especially excited, as many of them were students of mine during the school year.

Only problem was, the organizer dropped the ball. Even as she announced, "there will be a couple more stories," even as the teller who serves as our contact person was reminding her, she decided to hand out raffle prizes and ice cream. Aghh! We'd discussed that the stories should precede all that, agreed to it, and perhaps the librarian was so thrilled to be done with Summer Reading that she seized the moment.

Whatever. The end result was...Hans couldn't pack up his stuff, because she was using his sound system, kids were all over with their prizes and the audience basically got up and walked to the parking lot with their ice cream. Such is the life a storyteller sometimes. I'm glad to have been able to enjoy Hans' last program here, and wish him well on his journey to the beautiful Northwest Coast. LaCrosse's loss will be Orcas Island's gain. Thanks for blessing the underwear of a generation of Coulee Region kids, Hans!


At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Lainie said...

I'm sorry to hear you were upstaged by the ice cream. What a downer that must have been! I'm actually relieved to hear that your time was taken up by poor planning and organization, rather than by a teller who took up your time with his / her own performance.

Hopefully, though, you got paid anyway for your time????

At 5:59 AM, Anonymous Sue said...

How frustrating! I'm sorry your story didn't get the chance to contribute to the celebration. It is definitely hard to try to reign everyone back in after a farewell performance, especially when they are anticipating ice cream and prizes.
What chance did you really have to succeed? Maybe it is a blessing. Maybe they would have been so antsy to get through the announced "last story before the prizes" that they would have been restless and not have appreciated you or not listened as well, thus making you appear to be a less-than-engrossing storyteller. That would have been a nightmare gig too!
You're still a serious storyteller, just one in need of a gig where they seriously know how to place storytellers in the line-up and seriously know how to treat their guests.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Marilyn Kinsella said...

Hi Gwen I was so taken with your musings that I put up a blog on the same site! What a great way to vent your frustrations and triumphs than the the written sword! Yes, your gig has been a recurring nightmare of mine. In fact, one time it came true. I had an evening gig at a school where they left me in a gym with gym equipment laid out - no teachers/ no parents. They were in the classrooms. I had close to a hundred kids pre-K to 6th grade. I held them for precisely one and a half stories. Then they drifted off to bounce balls and generally run around the gym like a bunch of unleashed monkeys. It was awful...and I actually dreampt about it a couple of nights before. So, it was like deju vu again and again. So, we are not alone in this nightmare. Hurry, someone wake me up!! Marilyn Kinsella

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Helena said...

Oh no! That would be so frustrasting. And teeth-gnashingly annoying.

I'd love to hear the story of The Boy and the Devil.

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