Portland Storytellers’ Guild Monthly Showcase
Stories are how we make meaning of our lives and our world. They make us laugh, think–and teach us how to be human. When the pace of change accelerates absurdly and our definition of “community” seems to change with every headline, stories can ground us and help us remember who we are.
The Portland Storytellers’ Guild preserves the ancient tradition of oral storytelling in the modern world by creating a space where teller and listener sit down and together, recreate the stories of our common humanity. Like all living things, stories come to life when they are nurtured by being told, heard and savored.
For 25 years, the Portland Storytellers’ Guild has been introducing people of the Pacific Northwest to the joy and power of stories in person, face to face. Old stories that may have been committed to print long ago breathe and move and sing again. New stories find their way from our lives into our tales. It is said that to be human is to have a story to tell. That is what the Portland Storytellers’ Guild is all about.
We invite you experience this magic at one of our monthly performances, now at the Historic Clinton Street Theater!
Have you ever stepped over a threshold, into a new beginning? Did you act with clear intent, or accidentally, perhaps even by mistake, only realizing you had passed into new territory when you looked back?
Storytellers Eric Foxman, Wink Harner, Janet Liu and Chuck McConnell consider such passages in their own lives and in the lives of others – both real and imagined — in “Thresholds and Passageways,” the Portland Storytellers Guild monthly show, Saturday evening, April 4 at the Clinton Street Theater.
Wink Harner began training as a multilingual stckoryteller with the South Mountain College Storytelling Institute. Off stage she has “spent several lifetimes of careers” as a foreign language professor, translator, interpreter and typesetter as well as a manager of disability services and a developer and trainer of assistive technology programs in higher education. She has told stories in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English “with some Quechua and Nahuatl thrown in.”
Janet Liu grew up in Taiwan and immigrated to America with her family when she was a child. She has lived with perspectives from two different cultures. She wants to share her personal stories, especially her Chinese-American stories; to help nurture understanding of the Chinese culture. She is retired and enjoys playing the piano, storytelling, and volunteering in her community.
Chuck McConnell credits his penchant for storytelling to genetics. I grew up in a family of talkers,” he says. In 1914, his father (a second grader at the time) was given an award for “excellent performance in the oral presentation of stories.” His mother, a champion debater in high school, went on to become a children’s librarian. Before settling in Portland in 2010, most of his storytelling was as a pledge drive pitchman on public TV stations where he harangued audiences in 12 states.
Eric Foxman would rather be telling or listening to stories than just about anything — with one notable exception. Over many years, he has learned that stories feed the soul with a delight and satisfaction only equaled by the slow flavorful enjoyment of a mouthful of melting dark chocolate that has gone through a long process of “conching.” intense mixing, agitating, and aerating in its heated liquid form. Eric has learned that stories, too, need “conching” to be told to best effect.
Whether it is a sage on the stage or a guide on the side, a parent or grandparent family friend or total stranger, our teachers help draw out who we are and shape who we become.
Patrick Gannon, Brian Rohr and Julie Strozyk share stories about teachers who have touched and influenced their lives Saturday evening May 2 at the Clinton Street Theater in the Portland Storytellers Guild’s final regular monthly show of the 2019-20 season.
Raised in a rural northern Wisconsin as the oldest of 9 children, Patrick Gannon is retired third-grade teacher who has regaled Guild audiences for the past five years. He especially enjoys illuminating the historic impact of little known people and relatively obscure events he finds highly significant, leaning on an educational principle he lives by: “We are all life-long learners.”
Brian Rohr (brianrohr.com) is a professional storyteller who has taught and performed at major conferences, festivals, high schools, universities, synagogues and libraries throughout the country. Brian often draws from on the old stories – the myths, folktales and fairy tales – that can inform us on how to live our lives, helping to make sense and meaning of our own living world.
Julie Strozyk began her storytelling career by enthralling her classmates with extemporaneous tales of mad scientists and vampires. Her sixth-grade teacher, Gertrude George, was so impressed she encouraged Julie to stand in front of the class and weave her tales for an hour at a time, often making them up on the spot. In 1986 she took up storytelling again and has been a featured Guild teller for more than a quarter-century.