Sizzling Hot Storytellers

Monday Magazine's Theatre Critic Sheila Martindale marvels in the storytelling at the Belfry's presentation of Flame.

Sheila Martindale

Once upon a time, before there was writing, or when few people knew how to write and read, there was storytelling. Before television and myriad other entertainments, there was storytelling. Today, despite the fact that most people are literate to one degree or another, and despite the hundreds of other ways that people spend their leisure time, there is still storytelling

Flame is a storytelling evening, and it happened on Jan. 9 at the Belfry theatre, where nine people stood up and told their stories.  The rules, according to host Deborah Williams, were simple – the story had to be about the person telling the story; had to be true; and it had to take less than ten minutes to tell.

The topics were as varied as the speakers.  Interesting that there was only one man among the group; Tony Adams was probably the youngest participant, and it was perhaps significant that his was the sole scatological story.  It had its own charm.

Pauline Granger was outstanding in her presence; and her story, delivered in a beautiful, well-modulated voice, was moving and sad.

For humour we had a couple of  excellent entertainers.  Moira Walker regretted not having a man along on her winter vacation in Mexico, if only to save her from irritating ‘friends’ or to advise her that she would have needed warmer clothes for an unscheduled  stop-over in Calgary in February.  Jennifer Ferris treated us to the joys of swimsuits in the pool and in the changing room, in a wonderfully deadpan voice, reminding us that our bodies tell the stories of our lives.

For a lesson on how to train dogs not to kill the chickens in a neighbour’s yard, Lisa Scalapino had some handy advice; while Missy Peters told us about the love between her grandparents, in her story about a hospital bed.

Karen Wright added a dose of aboriginal culture and history, in her story about the descendants of Sitting Bull and Custer. And Patrice Polarino shared an unusual coming-of-age tale.  Also, in case you’ve ever wondered how a winter accident on the Alaksa Highway would turn out, we had Susan Allerton to tell us about Wanda the Wonder Car.

Jeremiah Kennedy began, ended and interspersed the evening of stories with his songs.

Flame was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, much appreciated by the audience packing the Belfry lobby.  If you missed it, make a point to attend when it comes again next year!

 

 

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