"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trek (6 of 7): "Battling Out" Story Project Priorities

I must decide which priorities are most important for the premiere.

This is six of seven posts relating to my info-gathering trek to BYU on October 21, 2008.

Ideally all of the following options would be available, but I may need to drop one or two of them. Perhaps all of them would be possible for a future time but not for the premiere.

After much debate, here are my priorities in order of preference:
  • Out-of-town Professor, Elizabeth Ellis, to be Present
  • High Attendance
  • On-Campus Convenience
  • True to RSVPs Received for Monday, February 9th
  • Fundraiser Capability
Out-of-town Professor, Elizabeth Ellis, to be Present
Though this "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" project has been on my mind since 2005, the project did not emerge into being until Elizabeth Ellis urged us East Tennessee State University graduate students in the Storytelling program to take an incomplete for her Advanced Storytelling class. She wanted us to perform at our top caliber for the "My Finest Hour" assignment.

Finally I had enough courage to see the dream become reality.

There is a benefit for having a professor who is also a national storyteller: she travels often to reach her engagements. However, this does not mean she is in Utah every month or every other month.

When she became one of the two keynote speakers/tellers for the 2009 Timpanogos Storytelling Conference during February 5-7, I this was my chance for Elizabeth to see my performance in-person. True, I could videotape the performance and mail a copy to her, although any storyteller would tell you it is not the same.

Elizabeth Ellis would be in Utah about a week after the conference to perform for schools and community groups. Nevertheless, I could not have Elizabeth pencil in every single evening as one of the possible dates for my premiere. While a venue is determined, Elizabeth has been so kind to reserve Monday, February 9th as well as Wednesday, February 4th.

High Attendance
For any performance you want an audience and the exact number in attendance does not matter.

Yet, when your venue will have 300+ seats, then you want to fill as many as possible.

The main people I aim to attend are: Timpanogos Storytelling Conference attendees (most likely from Utah unless others extend their stay), college students, and Utah Storytelling Guild members. I expect there will also be people from chambers of commerce, youth groups, and senior citizen groups as well as other miscellaneous groups.

If the premiere is scheduled any farther from the Monday, February 9th, date and the less I would gain from the conference attendees.

With Monday known as Family Home Evening, this could help or hurt my efforts. I would like the audience to compose of 12-year-olds+ with no one younger than eight. It may be strange for parents and youth to attend and yet discourage the younger ones to be there on such a night as Family Home Evening. Although, for the student BYU Family Home Evening groups, this may be a nice activity due to the performance's theme.

On-Campus Convenience
The Timpanogos Storytelling Conference is held at Brigham Young University because of its partnership with the Division of Continuing Education housed in the Harman Building. Anybody coming from out-of-town or out-of-state may book a hotel closest to the BYU campus. Being on campus is also desired as I hope some professors will encourage attendance from their students through listing it in their syllabi or at least making an announcement in class.

If the event did not take place on-campus, it would need to be close enough for students and conference attendees. The name of the venue would also need to be recognizable and, hopefully, easy to find.

True to RSVPs Received for Monday, February 9th
Ever since I started the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" blog and Facebook support group, the date has been announced and I have placed various countdowns throughout the Internet. I have also included the date in my email signature.

As such, I have friends and supporters who have already RSVPed.

One of my storytelling friends, Carol Esterreicher, was offered to tell stories for the Salt Lake County Library system on Monday, February 9th. Carol explained that she would need to tell another night because she was attending my premiere. She did not have to do that and she told me about it after the fact. With friends like Carol, I am truly blessed.

Fundraiser Capability
Being part of the Storytelling Heroes Campaign Advancement Team, I felt a duty in dedicating one of my performances for the 100-benefit-concert-effort to each raise at least $250 for the National Storytelling Network and further the art.

After my trek to the BYU Campus, I realized that this would involve another approval form to be filled. Being sponsored by a college department or club meant I had to abide by the campus' rules. The Family Home Evening night, if also sponsored through a religious group, would forbid the exchange of money, donations, goods, or services. There seemed little to no success even once the approval form was completed.

Having the Heroes fundraiser for this premiere would complicate an already intense project. I have other performances which would be easier to transform into a fundraiser.

So now you know where I stand.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trek (5 of 7): "Oh Glorious" Paperwork for Theatre

Whether or not the university is conservative or has religious connections, there is a guarantee there will be paperwork to create an event.

This is five of seven posts relating to my info-gathering trek to BYU on October 21, 2008.

Brigham Young University may have the most paperwork than any other place, though that is only to provide a safe place for sponsors and for performers alike. Usually each piece of paperwork is no more than a page. Sometimes receiving the proper signatures is the challenge.

I met with Naomi Davidson (see upper left picture), current BYU Storytelling Club president, so to discuss if the club could sponsor the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" narrative production. She was fully supportive, and I thought how wonderful it was for a club that I founded to still be around when I could use it's help at this time. Things seemed to fall in place.

Then, with all the forms to be completed and rules to check, I jokingly wondered if at any moment Naomi would shout, "Stop! This is not worth it!"

From talking with the Associate Dean of Students to the Student Leadership Club Coordinator, Naomi and I discovered that paperwork would be needed for the following:
  • Official BYUSA club sponsorship of the Event
  • Scheduling the Varsity Theatre
  • Fundraising Exception outside Care Week (March 2-7 for clubs)
  • Monday Night (during 7:00pm-9:00pm due to Family Home Evening)
The fundraising exception form was considered only because I thought the performance could connect with the Storytelling Heroes Campaign. This is a new tradition by the National Storytelling Network for 100 benefit concerts per year around the country to raise at least $250 each so as to further the art. The Associate Dean of Students believed that it would make sense for the BYU Storytelling Club to want to raise money for a nonprofit national storytelling organization. However, the final say would be from the Club Coordinator.

Usually BYUSA clubs are reserved one Care Week per semester to raise money, services, or goods for causes. My February 9th premiere date was about a month before the actual Care Week of March 2-7, 2009.

Yet, it was the exception form to perform on Monday night that was "the impossible". Besides all-day Sunday, Monday night from 7:00pm to 9:00pm is considered sacred because it is connected to the Family Home Evening (FHE) time.

You may ask, "Why would that be a concern as students are away from their families?" The answer: students are placed into Family Home Evening groups with a student as "mother" and another student as "father". It is amusing when the "parents" and the 10-15 "children" are about the same ages. Someone teaches a spiritual lesson merged with an activity and finally followed by refreshments. Food is of utmost importance to these gatherings.

To have FHE more convenient, you cannot schedule from 7:00pm-9:00pm anywhere on campus. The exception is if one of the BYU bishops from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints calls the Campus Scheduling Office to make the arrangements. So for my "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" program, I thought perhaps Naomi or other BYU Storytelling Club members could approach their FHE groups and see if it could be a grand scale FHE activity also open to the public. This would boost attendance and help in regards to the professional filming of the event.

After the filming and with food being one of the themes in "Family Famine: Hunger for Love", then it made sense to have light refreshments after the performance. Besides the four official forms aforementioned, I would need to check if only food from BYU Catering would be allowed due to health rules or if I could have friends bring in desserts in potluck style. Most elementary, middle, and high schools are not allowed to have homemade treats because they need to be made and wrapped in sanitary ways. I am unsure if this standard stretches to universities.

With the attempt to keep all these forms and exceptions straight, I then received an unexpected answer from the BYU Storytelling Club faculty advisers. They did not think the BYU campus was the best venue for the ambitions and dreams I had for the event. Plus, they did not want to disrupt the Monday FHE time. Their signatures would be need alongside Naomi's and though I was disappointed, I began to think that perhaps they were right--at least about the BYU campus being the best venue.

If it was a FHE activity at the Varsity Theatre, then there could not be any exchange of money for tickets, donations, or selling of merchandise. I had hoped for this option to cover my costs in putting on the event.

Yet, Monday night was the aim as national storyteller Elizabeth Ellis would be in the area for the Timpanogos Storytelling Conference. She is one of my East Tennessee State University Storytelling Masters professors who challenged us students to create "My Finest Hour" project. The "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" narrative production happened to be my project.

Elizabeth Ellis promised to attend and to be my emcee.

Despite all the research to make it possible for the BYU Storytelling Club to sponsor me, I will now determine what other options are available to meet the majority of my ideals.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

Monday, October 27, 2008

Trek (4 of 7): Theatre & Visual Art as Story Cousins

I have never been in a play nor have I had any pieces showcased at a gallery.

This is four of seven posts relating to my info-gathering trek to BYU on October 21, 2008.

Regardless of how involved I am in Theatre and Media Arts or Visual Arts, these two fields are still my cousins and comrades in storytelling.

The Theatre and Media Arts (TMA) department often hosts a storytelling course, as is the case at Brigham Young University. Currently a new instructor, Teresa Love, teaches storytelling at BYU whom I am anxious to meet as her name is unfamiliar amongst the Utah Storytelling Guild circle.

I learned from the Dean of the TMA Department that the course tends to be offered almost every Fall and Winter semester, which meant one would be available during Winter Semester 2009. The inside of me cheered as my "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" narrative production occurs during Winter Semester on February 9, 2009.

The previous storytelling instructor, Karla Huntsman, moved to Nevada. She gave credit for those who participated in the BYU Storytelling Club. I hope Teresa Love shares the same inclinations and extends credit to her students in attending my premiere.

Unfortunately, the new instructor does not have an office at BYU despite also teaching TMA 352 "Theatre in Elementary School Classroom". I would have to wait to introduce myself. At least the Dean gave me her email.

The Dean then offered announcing my premiere in the TMAccess, a two-sided weekly newsletter for their students.

TMAccess included the following categories:
  • Department Notices
  • Department Calendar
  • Opportunities & Workshops (largest section)
  • Scholarships & Grants
  • Internships
  • Festivals, Conferences & Contests
  • Services & Commercial Information
  • Auditions
  • Events in the Area
Until I create a blurb, I am uncertain which category would be best for my premiere. You may think "Of course 'Events in the Area' would make the most sense."

Yet, there could be requests for artistic support such as:
  • Filmmaker who wants to build their portfolio
  • Actor who may want to do a short tandem piece in the premiere
  • Technician or Lights person who may guide in staging
These requests may fall under "Opportunities & Workshops" or "Festivals, Conferences & Contests" or "Auditions".

Once I learned about TMAccess, I wondered if the Visual Arts Department may have a similar newsletter or way to call-out to students.

So I walked a few doors over, and entered the Visual Arts Office. I learned that they post items on "Y Bulletin Boards". Requests can be placed on a piece of paper no larger than 8 1/2" by 11". The paper is hung for a two week period. Usually postings are made every Friday. If you want to have a request up for longer than two weeks, then you need to submit a new paper before the two weeks is up of the initial posting. I met the lady who reviews the requests and received her email.

I could announce the need for students' artwork to:
  • Assist in advertising of event through fliers, posters, etc.
  • Feature in the published book "Family Famine: Hunger for Love"
  • Display as part of a gallery before people sit down for the performance
All of the above could only be done with permission from the artists.

Any help from the cousin arts to storytelling is always appreciated.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller