"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Forsaken Brother": When a Practice goes Right

After practicing the "Forsaken Brother" story, I had to smile.

Last week I was so nervous to tell the story for fear of making mistakes. Julie Barnson, my story buddy, had mentioned that I seemed to force the words out rather than have the flow I usually have when I tell.

Today I seemed to be on a journey to the lake, hills, and trees that permeate this story. I enjoyed the images and the words came more freely.

Not only had my confidence soured, but I told the story without stopping or major stumblings. There are still word choices to polish, but overall the telling was good.

Last night I reviewed elements of Ojibwa culture from the Juvenile Literature books. In particular, I focused on images within each of the seasons.

Summer = Neebing
  • Wild strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and June berries
  • Corn ripened
  • Blueberries dot the forest floor
Fall = Dagwaging
  • Splendor of red, yellow, and orange leaves
  • Women harvest the crops
  • Paddle in birch bark canoes on lakes and marshes to gather wild rice that grows as three to five feet tall grasses
Winter = Beboong
  • Snowshoes on so to search for deer and rabbit
  • Silhouettes against purple sky
  • Rivers and lakes disappear under the snow
  • Scattered and isolated camps so families can survive the long and bitter season
Spring = Zeegwung
  • Tap maple trees for maple sugar
  • Thawed earth is time to dig with sticks to plant seeds of corn, beans, and squash
  • Spear hunt fish during night time when ice thaws from winter
Some of these images were shared for the story.

Of most importance was the night time fish spear hunting. When I read a version of "Forsaken Brother" for the first time, I always imagined that the brother went during the day. Reading about the culture let me know that it was at night, which made this scene of the story more eerie and haunting. The climax happens during this time.

Though it was a great practice, I still need to figure out how to tell the story "Nanabozho and Winter-Maker" within "Forsaken Brother".

As the overall mood of "Forsaken Brother" is sad and gloomy, the telling of "Nanabozho and Winter-Maker" is a chance to lighten the mood and bring in humor. This Nanabozho story could be told in a fairy tale type way. Besides, the audience will be able to better distinguish between the two stories easier if done in a different style.

Meanwhile, guitarist Joshua Payne experimented with soundscapes. He had a chime-like sound during the Nanabozho story that worked extremely well. When we got to the climax, the increased tension and energy to the story reflected in his playing, which, in turn, inspired me to increase my energy even more.

It is fascinating how the "Forsaken Brother" story has evolved since 2005.

When a story evolves, then it has life. When a story has life, then it continues to evolve.

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

No comments: