Remember tin-can telephones?  As a kid I loved the way the long, taut string would hum as it carried the voice of a distant, unseen speaker directly into my ear.

For me, storytelling is like having a tin-can telephone with a string stretching out through time: through years, over centuries, and across millennia. I listen while far away, in the distant past, someone tells me a story; their voice still hums and vibrates, alive in my mind. 

Once a story reaches me, my task is to pass it on to new listeners, young and old. I hope they will start the story vibrating down new strings, travelling on into an unseen future.

HOW DID YOU BECOME A STORYTELLER?

While I was living in London after college, I ran away to Scotland one summer to work as a chef in the tiny fishing village of Crinan. While there, I became absorbed in the stories of the Brothers Grimm, struggling to translate them from the German. When friends asked what I was reading, I found myself caught up in recounting these amazing, sometimes unsettling tales.

Back in London, where I was training in classical theater, I began to perform these stories for a variety of audiences. I quickly discovered I had to "unlearn" some of my theater training in order to tell stories.  Stories, I realized, were not texts to recite so much as maps one could follow to create a unique, shared experience with listeners.

My one man play "Grimm" was produced in a late-night performance at a London pub theater called, appropriately, The Man in the Moon. That production went on to the Edinburgh Festival and was later excerpted on BBC-TV.

Living in England, I was able to spend a lot of time in Italy and other parts of Europe, where my understanding of folk-culture and traditional stories expanded significantly. Once established, my appetite for traditional stories became voracious. I discovered the treasures of the British Library and spent many, many hours tracking down elusive and ancient tales.

This was in the late 1980s, when storytelling was experiencing a spontaneous revival both in England and in the United States. I was fortunate to encounter many other travelers on the same path.

When I returned to America and began telling stories to children, the real power of traditional stories struck me with a tremendous force.  Children have taught me most of what I know about stories and storytelling.

Living in New York City in 1999, I began telling stories at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where my ability to explore the connections of stories to their broader artistic heritage took on a tremendous new depth.  In my first project there I was invited to tell a version of "Gilgamesh" based on  a new translation of three-thousand year old cuneiform tablets.

In 2005 I became the director of artsVOYAGE, an arts-integration program at Spencertown Academy in Spencertown, New York.  This program is an amazing opportunity to synthesize visual art, history, story, and learning while working with many wonderful teachers and students.

In 2008 I was invited to be the storyteller-in-residence at R.J. Kinsella Magnet School of the Performing Arts, in Hartford, Connecticut.  This is a wonderful learning community where storytelling serves to enrich students' lives in many artistic forms.

Having worked extensively and intensively with students and children for twenty years, I now find myself turning back to adult audiences as often as possible.  I particularly enjoy bringing storytelling to new listeners -  adults who may not have had a story told to them for many years.

When I'm not telling or researching stories, I find myself propping up my century old farmhouse in beautiful Chester, Connecticut, or gardening with an amateur's zeal. Further afield, I visit my family on Cape Cod or, when time and budget allow, return to my old haunts in England and Italy.

One never knows where the next story might be found!
















































x