"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outreach: Transform Solo Piece to Community Art

A storyteller does not have to be alone. With all the wondrous art forms out in the world, the merging of them brings about something that more than one person can enjoy.

When I attended a workshop by the Utah Arts Council, I already had the idea of asking for who would like to join me in this "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" premiere set for February 9, 2009. With so many months for preparation, what was was ideal? What was realistic? Could ideal and realistic be the same thing?

Visual Art
I may like to draw with colored pencils every so often, but I do not have anything good enough to display in a gallery. Yet, the title "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" would conjure images that a group of artists could share.

Since there are still a few months before the premiere, I wondered if I could connect with Brigham Young University's Department of Visual Arts and have some or one professor challenge their students to create according to the theme. Then, during opening night, the images could be displayed as if a gallery before people take their seats.

Since I saw some staff from the Utah Arts Council, I explained my dream of a call-out to all visual artists in the state and beyond to join in the challenge. Though an official call may not be possible, it seemed that at least an email through the Utah Arts Council could be sent. At least some people may respond or at least have other ideas on how to merge many arts to make something a community effort.

Then one lady who used to work with the Council suggested that I also connect with high school art teachers, especially with Muray High School and its annual artist show of students. She also mentioned the Bountiful/Davis Art Center. Other individual names were shared who lived from Orem to American Fork.

Perhaps the artwork imagined could help when eventually there is a book on "Family Famine: Hunger for Love". Maybe that would give more motivation to the artists to participate.

I already planned to sing some songs of my creation in the program. I continue to debate the use of hymns and church songs such as "Love at Home" (click to hear sung by Morman Tabernacle Choir) or "Families can be Together Forever" (click to hear sung by a one-year-old). It may be best to use songs outside of my LDS culture just as I expect to use multicultural stories outside of my own.

Strangely, the classic primary song "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree" (click to hear a little brother and sister sing it with actions) keeps coming to mind.

I will need to keep in mind permissions as this event will be recorded.

Regardless of the songs chosen or created, I could see a couple moments where I would be accompanied. Some storytellers have the talent with one or more instruments. Though I used to play the piano, I could not see it good enough for something like this project. There is a certain mood that occurs during a cappella--what I normally do with song--and when accompanied.

Clive Romney, one of my friends and Executive Director of the Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts, is an accomplished musician and song composer. When I saw him at the Council event, I asked if he had a moment to hear my plans. He agreed that I had a wonderful concept and asked to hear the story "Forsaken Brother", an Ojibwa tale, to understand what inspired this journey in the first place. The other attendees had gone for lunch. With a little hesitation, I did an impromptu performance. Before I started, Sally Johnson from Green Light, a booking and talent management company, walked into the room, noticed I was about to share something, and asked if she could take join us. I nodded.

After the telling, Clive gave a couple names on someone who I might tandem compose so to avoid the pitfalls for amateur songwriters as myself. One person was a guitarists. Clive thought since I was striving for quality good enough for the PBS station, that having more polished pieces were in order.

I have not explored this area too much, though I have thought to what Buck P Creacy did with his "Soup" production in which he told stories and music and dance merged with his telling. Only he often went to the side when the pieces were done. You can find some clips of "Soup" on his link.

I do have a talented sister-in-law who danced for the BYU Modern Dance Team since a freshmen, a feat in and of itself. The style of modern dance would make the most sense for my narrative production anyway. Now to give her a call.

Perhaps because I am taking a theatrical approach and even using the term "narrative production" qualifies for this area of art. Though there may be a structure to the performance, I do not picture it scripted. I do want to interact with the audience so that the piece would change if someone were missing or added to the group.

The development of this piece, however, may be of interest to Drama clubs or the Department of Theatre and Media Arts. I may want to put a sort of residency. Maybe teachers or professors would encourage questions to be asked or to give comments to this blog. There are the possiblities of discussion on the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" Facebook account.

I will continue to see how this solo piece of mine can become something more. Something that could be toured from campus to campus across the world so that the visual art, music, dance, and theatre aspects could change each time and therefore have an ever-evolving production. Though center stage of all of this would be the storytelling.

This is what I dream.

Until we tell again,
Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
How-To Blog: http://storytellingadventures.blogspot.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com

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