Thursday, October 7, 2010

My friend Lisa Pijuan-Nomura and I are pleased (and surprised: she and Dave had their baby Max Antonio 5 weeks ago, and then he needed an operation from which, thank goodness, he's recovering well) to announce that the second edition of FOOL - festival of oral literatures is starting soon. This is a celebration of the arts of voice and story, and it brings together storytellers, performance poets, theatre artists, tradition-keepers, and dancers who use narrative. You may remember from last year that FOOL happens in house concerts and at the Artscape Wychwood Barns; this year we've added Alliance Française, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Palmerston Library. As we did last year, the first two nights will wind up with an after-party at Terrazza Restaurant, on Harbord just east of Ossington. Our special guests this year include Laura Simms (New York), one of North America's greatest storytellers; Hilary Peach, an incredible performance poet from Gabriola Island; our good friend Alan Shain, spinning poignant hilarity from his wheelchair; Éric Gauthier, a fine young teller from Québec; and we even have a surprise guest: the wonderful Regina Machado, from Sao Paulo, Brazil - founder/director of Boca do Ceu International Storytelling Festival.

For all of the program info and to order tickets (highly recommended due to the intimate size of some of the venues), please visit

I'm doing four things this year as a teller and teacher. On Thursday, Oct. 21, I'm telling with Éric and Regina at Sagatay (Native Men's Residence), on Vaughan Road south of St. Clair. I performed there last year, and the front room is a magical, firelit hall, with a trace of sweetgrass in the air. I'm telling a new story titled Stormfool's Cool Gig, a pretty wild tall tale about a freelance storyteller who gets the best job in the world. I just did it at the Israel Storytelling Festival in Ramat Gan. Lots of fun. Regina will be telling stories from Afro-Brazilian traditions, and Éric brings his surreal Montreal yarns and a great retelling of the story of Ganesh.

On Saturday morning, Oct. 23, I'm hosting Bread and Stories at the Barns from 10 - 12 at farmers' market at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. Some of you know this is a regular gig for me, while I've been working as Storytelling Toronto's Storyteller-in-Residence this year. On Oct. 23 I'll be joined by my friends Celia Lottridge, Adwoa Badoe, Dahlia Eagle-Ellis, and Gurpreet Chana for a morning of stories and music. It's free, and we'd love to have you come out to the market.

That afternoon, from 1 - 3 pm, I'm co-teaching, with photographer Dave Pijuan-Nomura, a workshop titled See So That We May See. This is an exploration of how storytellers can "see" and re-imagine their stories, discovering what lies beyond the text. Dave and I will be asking participants to visualize their stories in a cinematic way. Should be fun and challenging. Bring your mind's eye and your imaginary cameras.

And on Sunday, Oct. 24, we're doing And The Story Changed Everything, from 5 - 6:30 pm at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. This session includes Laura Simms, Alan Shain, the great jazz/klezmer/improv guitarist Brian Katz, Regina Machado, and me. Brian and I will be performing Talking You In, the piece we do about a father telling stories to his son in the neo-natal intensive care unit. (If you can't make it on the 24th, we're doing it again at the Hospital for Sick Children on Oct. 30 as part of a fundraiser for Parent-Child Mother Goose Program.)

Besides these events, FOOL is full of great house concerts, a main-stage gala on Saturday night, FOOL en français (at the Alliance Française), and a very funny show on Sunday afternoon (3 -5 pm) at Palmerston Library, which features National Theatre of the World, the greatest improv troupe in Canada.

Hope to see you at some or all of these FOOL sessions!