Saturday, November 17, 2007

Miss Cleo's small but huge Tellabration

Does the success of the event depend on the number of people in the audience? Many of you would say yes. I would say no, not the slightest bit. Tonight was one of the best storytelling events I've ever had, and we only had 3 people for an audience.
Miss Cleo has a wonderful place here in Hartford, with her own tiny little bookstore called Cull Books. She herself is the kind of person who starts smiling when you meet her, and keep smiling... probably forever. She set up the place for the Tellabration, arranged everything, brought food and drinks, and created a friendly atmosphere that was waiting for us when we arrived. The third storyteller for the evening was Gail Zeiba, the tiny, elegant lady with the twinkle in her eye and the warm voice. And so the Tellabration begun.
Miss Cleo told us an all-time favorite, a story that is very close to all storytellers' hearts (The King Who Loved Stories, at least this is how it's called when I tell it) and she was a happy smile herself. Then it was my turn to tell; I told a Hungarian folktale, The Tree that Reached the Sky, and I felt I told it well (as far as I can tell, the audience agreed). With all the friendly people around, I just sat back, and enjoyed the story myself - a rare experience, and a very nice one too.
And then, Gail started telling a story, well, more like hitting us in the face with a story, and I was right down on the floor. One half of her power was the story itself (one by Ursula K. Le Guin - and one of the best stories I've ever heard), and the other half the way she told it - her voice was sharp and clear and colorful, and her eyes were telling the story along with the words. I was just glad I didn't have to go up to the "stage" next, so I could sit half-dazed with the all the feelings and thoughts left behind by her tale.
Miss Cleo's sister wanted to tell us a true story, and we were happy to listen. She told us about her experiences teaching Hartford kids - it was all true, and it was heart-breaking and heart-warming the same time. Then Gail came again, with a folktale and a song (and what a nice tale it was:), and Miss Cleo with a true story to warm our hearts again. Then it was my turn; I felt happy and enthusiastic and comfortable, so I told one of my dearest, most favorite stories, Mr. Death and the Red Headed Woman. You know, one of the tales I always enjoy telling, and probably would tell it to the walls if I didn't have audience, just for the sheer joy of telling it... and the nice little friendly audience loved it too (Gail already knew it, and it was even better that she liked my version too:).
It was Gail who wrapped the evening up into a nice bundle of colorful tales and laughter and kindness, and tied it up with a last story (Wisdom and Luck), and then all was left for us was to eat some cookies, drink some coffee and apple juice, talk (and talk... and talk... and talk...) and then set out on our way again, happy and content with the evening.
Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I had a great time. It really felt like good old all-evening storyswapping between people who have something in common.
If you ask me, this is what the Tellabration is about.