Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, October 18, 2004

Storytellers bring memories to life

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

No matter how old you are, everyone has a story to tell.

It's all in the telling and the retelling that separates the yarns from the storytellers.

Yesterday afternoon, about two dozen people from elementary school students to retirees tried their hand at becoming better storytellers at the 16th annual Talk Story Festival at Ala Moana Beach Park's McCoy Pavilion. They learned how to gesture, use dialogue, describe the scene and the characters and express their emotions.

There was a Maui firefighter who wanted to tell better stories to his grandchildren, a home-schooling mother who wanted her children to learn more about oral history and storytelling as an art form, and another who wanted to become a better speaker.

The festival, put on by the city Department of Parks and Recreation and organized by storyteller Jeff Gere, was a three-day event featuring a variety of storytellers who told spooky stories on Friday, love stories on Saturday and stories of courage last night.

"Exercises like this show people how they can do it," Gere said. "Storytelling quantifies the values of a culture. I'm on a mission to infect people with a story."

Gere, who is the founder of the Talk Story Festival, is a master storyteller himself. He is best known for his performances of Vincent van Gogh and his shadow puppet show "The Arabian Nights." In his performances he uses words, gestures and different voices to bring stories to life, to make a movie in his audiences' imaginations.

The workshop is a natural step to sharing his talents with everyday folks, Gere said. "What we're doing today is taking our own memories and turning them into words that tell a story," he said. "We want to feel the story, all the colors, the bells and whistles. Help each other become better storytellers."

Wayne Garcia, a Foster Village resident, attended the workshop yesterday afternoon and took his childhood memory as a 10-year-old boy walking through a graveyard near a maximum-security prison that executed death-row inmates and where people unclaimed by their families were buried. Garcia said it gave him a scare that has stayed with him 30 years.

A hand covered by leaves, he recalled, reached up from the grave and grabbed his leg. It turned out to be the hand of an older boy playing a prank on him.

As Garcia told his story to one person and then later to a second and a third person, he made changes to his delivery to make it more meaningful and scarier.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com or 395-8831.