"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brainstorming and a List I Forgot I Had

The easiest way for me to be motivated about a program or even an individual story is to create the title. After finding a title that resonates with me, then I create a 30-60-word description.

Strangely, having a title and a 30-word description was the same requirement to be part of a lottery for the Fringe in connection with the 2006 National Storytelling Conference. I took this opportunity to figure out the now-called "Family Famine: Hunger for Love." When my name was not drawn for the Fringe, I put the project on hold. (You may notice a couple references to the Fringe or to deadlines throughout this blog entry.)

I have since decided that I can create my own event.

What to call this event? Though titles or descriptions may change as stories are chosen or another theme direction taken, the process seems to say "I am committed". With the commitment, I am ready for the storytelling adventure.

I forgot that back in 2005 I created a binder to throw in my ideas for the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" narrative production. I found it today. More lists than expected were created so I will share one of them with you now.

Title/Concept Ideas (brainstorming):
Families: Eternally Ever After or The End
Family Fairytale: Ever After or The End
Family Fantasy: Ever After or The End
Do Families Exist?
Family Focus
Shaken Families
Family Physics: Every Action has an Equal or Opposite Reaction
Family Foul Play: Timeout!
Family Feuds
Parenting Nightmares
Abuse in the Home
Families of the Ages
Forever Families
Eternal Bonds
Beyond the Relationship
Family Fork in the Road: Ever After or The Dead End?
Eternally Ever After or Family Feuds
Eternally Ever After: Reality?
Eternally Ever After or Happy til Death
Eternally Ever After or The End--Families in Question
The End?--Families in Question
The End of Families. . .Or The Beginning
Family Weather Channel--Storm or Sunshine
Family Weather Report--Cloudy or Sunny
Family Forecast--Cloudy or Sunny
Happy Homes in all Shapes and Sizes
Homes Divided and Homes United
Scarred or Healed for Eternity
Eternal Courtship
No Place Like Home. . .Unless
Heaven Could Be Boring Without Families
Families Under Construction
Family Breakers and Creators
Family Famine: Hunger for Love

From the list above, I narrowed down to the titles I loved the best. I was at such a loss as to which one to choose. Appropriately enough, I turned to my family. I emailed or shared in-person the following request to my family, some storytelling friends, and a couple people in the position to hire me.

Basic Script when Requested People to Vote on Title:
I need your vote on your favorite title below. I am putting together an hour program focused on strong family relationships as well as the poor ones. Please respond quickly as the deadline to submit the title and 30-word description is Wednesday, November 30th. In fact, perhaps you can print a copy and show to others.

Family Physics: Every Action has an Equal or Opposite Reaction
Family life can be a fusion bomb upon the actions of abuse and abandonment. Rachel Hedman shares the nuclear energy of patience, humor, and unconditional love through multicultural tales.

Family Foul Play: Timeout!
Famly life can strike out when pitched abuse and abandonment. Rachel Hedman shares the victory of patience, humor, and unconditional love through multicultural tales.
Reasoning--Most families experience sports or Little League.
Possible Image--Umpire showing timeout signal

Family Fork in the Road: Ever After or The Dead End?
Family life can halt at the dead end of abandonment and abuse. Rachel Hedman shares the U-turn to the other road of patience, humor, and unconditional love through multicultural tales.
Reasoning--Perhaps growing up with "The Muppet Movie" did something for me.
Possible Image--Giant metal fork in the road and also Dead End sign

Family Fairytale: Ever After or The End?
Family life can be a curse when there is abandonment and abuse. Rachel Hedman shares how to uplift the spell through patience, humor, and unconditional love through multicultural tales.

Family Famine: Hunger for Love
Family life can starve when fed abuse and abandonment. Rachel Hedman shares the feast of patience, humor, and unconditional love through multicultural tales.
Reasoning--I thought of the spiritual famine that is mentioned in the scriptures.
Possible Image--An almost wooden empty bowl with a tiny oatmeal heart on the bottom with a spoon to the side

Which one(s) of the above titles stand out in your mind more? Why or why not?
***After sending the request, I received over 40 votes.

Some Responses to Titles in November 2005:
Professional Storyteller in UT--
"I like them because they are unique, clever and I love wordplay. I'm not actually that keen on physics or baseball, but I like that you matched the title and the description. Well put! (Cold fusion OR homerun, depending on your choice!)"

"I like the others as well, especially the 'Fork In the Road', but for some reason, these two struck me brightest. Maybe it was because they were first on your list--who knows? But maybe the (dead) end gives me just a little pause--I always think of someone who has dealt successfully with abuse as a 'transcender' even more than a survivor, but there is some personal bias there. My mother grew up in an abusive home and managed to break the cycle. But then again, offering a 'U-turn' is a wonderful image. I love the visual images each of your titles/descriptions evoke--good work there, too."

"Anyway, I think you've got some good stuff here--real attention getters--so whether or not the National Storytelling Network picks it up, definitely DO develop this program. I think it has REAL merit and much value."

Commenting after hearing from Professional Storyteller in OH--
Thank you for responding to the different titles. I was quite divided on what title I felt mirrored my thoughts for this program. Although I would like to share this program at the Fringe (if drawn), most of the audience may be LDS or be from the community such as libraries and colleges.

In the end, I have decided on "Family Famine: Hunger for Love." The "Family Fairytale: Ever After or The End?" was a very close second. Part of my decision was based on the fact that I don't plan to share this with kids under 12 and I am afraid that "fairytale" might give the wrong impression to some people. Although fun and humorous stories will be used, I have two serious stories on child abuse and abandonment. Nothing graphic but it's not meant to hold attention of kids in elementary.

I will have to keep "Family Fairytale: Ever After or The End" for a program open to any age or for a younger group. Storytellers can appreciate the title but I don't want to worry about changing the title for the same program.

Commenting after hearing from Librarian in CA
I am in process of developing a program that could be a circuit program for libraries as well as other places. It's called "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" and it's geared for 12-year-olds and up. Utah has a teen program through the library, too, so I plan to share this program with them when it's completed.

So now you understand a little more of the history of the title.

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

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