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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: October 2017

    This Month Featuring: GOT GHOST STORY?

    In the last week or more of this month, the grid will be overflowing with opportunities to get your ghost story thrills from among the most talented storytellers in Second Life.  We'll cover some of those events farther down in this month's column so, rest assured, if you are having problems with your socks and need them scared off, we have you covered.

    There are also an abundance of narrative builds at this time of year.  What is that?  A "narrative" build is a commonly used term for regions or other created environments which are based on a story formed by their creator. "Back story" would be another commonly used term for using a story narrative to direct your building choices and visual design decisions.  Sometimes these narratives are clearly evident, and sometimes they are more covert. I have observed that there is a coherence and sense to narrative builds that don't always exist in less structured creations.

    There are artists, such as Cica Ghost, who always use strong narrative in their work. The Linden Endowment for the Arts regions are seeing installations with more and more evident stories attached.  Other artists such as Eleseren Brianna and Ceakay Ballyhoo have continued this approach by incorporating spoken word elements in their work and collaborating with writers.  MadPea, that purveyor of in-world gaming experiences, has been putting out the word lately for voice artists to audition for them, leading one to believe that voiced audio may become more of a part of their work.  

    This year's Octoberville build has a story-in-local-chat feature in it that is quite fun.  It is, in part, in support of their hunt, and in part just a further augmentation of the overall experience. Characters throughout the region will offer snippets of their own personal stories in local chat once you are in proximity to them.  "Much of the text that come from the characters, etc is directly related to the story (the hunt) and pushes it by giving you quests sometimes or just hints about secrets of the sim," shared Master Kaos, one of the co-creators of Octoberville. "In a way its kind of like a choose your own adventure book. It will unfold however you go about doing it. In my head, all of these characters have much longer stories that you only get snippets of in Octoberville," Kaos added.

    "The smell of dead leaves fill the air. You're not sure if it is the howling wind and trees or if you are really hearing voices… voices that beckon you to the campfire. As you approach the warm, crackling campfire, you hear the voices once again... they call to you. It appears to be coming from a statue of a tall man holding a book."

    Octoberville 2017http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Topaz/236/87/37

    This year's Designing Worlds Halloween Special (releasing October 30th) was also shot in Octoberville, so be sure and tune in to see the episode, this year's spooky story, plus interviews with the creators of Octoberville.  You can find Designing Worlds episodes right here on SLArtist.   

    Here are some special events above and beyond regularly scheduled story sessions between now and the day itself.  All times listed are SLT.

    THURSDAY, October 26th at 7pm: TRUE GHOST STORIES ~ Seanchai Library leader Shandon Loring brings his weekly Thursday story session to the great campfire at Octoberville, live on stream.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Topaz/236/87/37

    SATURDAY, October 28th at Noon: TALES OF THE HAUNTING SEASON at Innsmouth ~ Seanchai Library and friends bring Lovecraft and Lovecraftian tales to the Innsmouth Opera House, in the spirit of the season, live in voice. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Innsmouth/87/82/47

    SATURDAY, October 28th at 3:30pm: VICTORIAN GHOST STORIES at the Timeportal ~ Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde - so many great works of gothic fiction written during the Victorian era.  Seanchai Library and Friends will share some selections in this 90 minute session, live in voice.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Time%20Portal/201/223/1927

    SUNDAY, October 29th from Noon - 2pm: The 2nd Annual GREAT BOO! ~ Seanchai Library presents its annual celebration of ghosts, ghouls, and things that shriek in the night at "Haunted Holly Kai," live in voice.  Following at 2pm, DJ Joy Canadeo will spin tunes for spooky frolics amidst the pumpkins and mists.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/169/111/2015

    SUNDAY, October 29th at 3pm: A NIGHT IN THE CASTLE ~ Spooky Tales by Moon Aerandir presented in voice by Siric Freenote at the Dungeon Fortress at Avilion Nexus.  Teleport from the main landing point available in the half hour before the event. Medieval dress required. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Avilion%20Nexus/128/128/251

    SUNDAY, October 29th at 6pm: Selections from THE GRAVEYARD BOOK ~ In a Magicland tradition, Caledionia Skytower presents selected adventures from Neil Gaiman's 2009 Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal-winning book.  Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him. Presented live in voice at the Golden Horseshoe in MagiclandPark.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bracket/180/56/31

    TUESDAY, October 31st at NOON - HALLOWE'EN at Graveyard Dungeon ~ The Poet Laureate of Ce Soir Arts RUSSELL EPONYM will present a darkly beautiful programme of readings from the more mysterious and sinister of classic poets like Poe, Burns, Donne, and Herrick as well as more contemporary works. Spooky music and a Thought for the Day that's perfect for Hallowe'en will fill the hour with magic, live in stream! http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/72/188/17

    TUESDAY, October 31st at 1:30 pm - Selections from THE GRAVEYARD BOOK ~ "Rattle his bones, Over the stones, It’s only a pauper, Who Nobody owns"  – Traditional Nursery Rhyme. Caledonia Skytower shares more selections from Neil Gaiman's award-winning adventure, live in voice. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/72/188/17

    TUESDAY, October 31st at 2:30 pm - I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM ~ ÆonWoodford follows Caledonia with a stunning post-apocalyptic tale by Harlan Ellison. This sci-fi treasure is one of the most frightening, spine-chilling stories ever written, live in voice. Come visit the crypts and be prepared to screech in horror...if you can! http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/72/188/17

    TUESDAY, October 31st at 7 pm - HALLOWEEN AT HOGWARTS ~ What could be more normal than Halloween night at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?  Well, if you are Harry Potter and a fully grown mountain troll is involved, there might be a whole lot more than butter beer in the cards.  Caledonia Skytower, live in voice. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/215/44/27

    TUESDAY, October 31st at 8:30pm: HALLOWEEN LATE NIGHT - Ghost Stories ~ Seanchai Library Chief Storyteller, Shandon Loring, brings masterful tales of haunts and spooks to Haunted Holly Kai, in a special late night session, live in voice. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/169/111/2015

                           ("Haunted Holly Kai" high above Holly Kai Park on the Blake Sea)

    Know of a cool spoken word venue or project?  Send me a notecard (Caledonia Skytower) with the basics and a landmark, and I will be happy to check them out as a possible feature.

    This Month's Quote:  “When the dance was at an end, Ichabod was attracted to a knot of the sager folks, who, with Old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end of the hall, gossiping over former times, and drawing out long stories.  Quite naturally these tales were succeeded by stories of ghosts and apparitions, the neighborhood being rich in legendary treasures of that kind."

    ― Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

    All Images in this column shot at Octoberville in Second life, except as marked.  All shots by Caledonia Skytower

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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: June 2017

    This Month Featuring: Caravanserai 1

    Storytelling is a term that covers so many different expressive media. Even within a single platform such as Second Life, you find diverse performances, people challenging the boundaries of visual art as well as refining more traditional approaches.  When we are lucky, several disciplines combine to tell a story greater than the sum of its constituent episodes.  That is certainly the case with Carvanserai 1, making its debut this Saturday, June 24th at 7am as part of June's cavalcade of educational workshops and performances known as SL MOOC 2017.

    Now don't let the word "educational" spook you. This is definitely entertainment as well as enrichment.  All the best entertainment also teaches, generally without your ever noticing. Caravanserai is cleverly conceived to celebrate the natural exchange of culture and the arts that took place along the Silk Road, beginning as early as the second century BCE and continuing for over a millennia. "After trading all day in silks and spices, at night travelers were entertained with stories, poetry, song and dance. They learnt each other's languages and became the conduit for the world great ideas in ancient times - from the mathematical zero to appreciation of a cup of tea or coffee." shared Chris Mooney-Singh, producer of the program.

     

    "This project is an attempt to share the East-West dialogue I have been having for years with my co-organizer Kaylee West, a tertiary lecturer who conceived and runs Chinese Island in Second Life for Monash University. We decided to share our thoughts about East-West culture and created Caravanserai as an occasional artistic and intellectual platform for this," he continues.

    Singh narrates the hour long program, featuring his own adaptation of The Elephant and the Six Blind Menoriginal songs, special musical guest - gypsy violinist Navtali Torok, and James Elroy Flecker's 1913 verse drama The Golden Road to Samarkand.  Singh is joined by actors Pip Albatros, Corwyn Allen, and Mavromichali Szondi.  There will be a screening of a machinima based on the Edwin Thumboo poem "Ulysses by the Merlion" in which the speaker is Ulysses, the Homeric hero. By strange design or cosmic accident he finds himself in Asia, confronting this strange dragon, or naga-like creature and the Asian sea culture that it represents.

    "Culture travels in the saddle bags of history and in the light of new moves toward the New Silk Road today, perhaps our digital metaphor of barter and intellectual exchange can contribute new dialogue among pixel sand dunes and through virtual avatars on camels well into this millennium," Singh further shared, "In the future, this will be even more dynamic and VR goggles will make this experience far more immersive than even it is at present."

    Sited in a desert oasis skybox on Monash University's region, Singh notes, " Kaylee and I have been able to a create digital desert way station on the virtual Silk Road like a theatre or film set for an event that includes storytelling, theatre, a machinima screening debut with intellectual discussion, a spoken word offering and a live gypsy violin performance. Executing that in real life can be challenging. In virtual worlds, there are many human resources available to make this a reality without any real budget, except ones time."

    Yet, this virtual way station is by no means a permanent feature. They are ready to take their show on the road!  "We hope to reprise this first show for new audiences in the future, create new ones, and perhaps develop this occasional platform into a larger festival or Caravanserai Fair, spread over 2-3 days like any other festival in real life. Join us. The camel train is waiting," invited Singh.

    In addition to being a part of SL MOOC 2017, Carvanserai 1 is also a benefit for Feed A Smile (Kenya), another of Second Life's great philanthropic success stories.  100 Lindens pays for one child's meal in the German-based Feed a Smile charity's school in Kenya. One third of the school's monthly food budget is raised by virtual events in Second Life.

    More information about this program at http://www.thewriterscentre.org/caravanserai-project

    Check out the Teaser Trailer here on SLArtists!  

    Caravanserai 1

    At Monash University in Second Life

    Saturday, June 24th at 7am slt

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Monash%20University/142/140/2490

     

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

    ~ ON THE MOVE: Seanchai Library celebrates the opening of their new Holly Kai site,  featuring stories of ships, and the sea.

    Sunday, June 25th  1:30 - 3:00pm slt

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/215/44/27

    ~ A GLOBAL CREATION STORY: An encore performance, folklorist and theologian, Dubhna Rhiadra has spend years of studying and thinking about the many creation tales from around the world.  She shares some of those legendary stories of "in the beginning" live in voice at LEA 18 - EXISTENCE IN THE BALANCE

    Saturday, June 24th, 2-3 pm slt

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA18/224/98/119

    ~ NIAMH'S JOURNEY OF DREAMS concludes this month at Mistwood Isle - CK Ballyhoo's latest watercolour creation inspired by Cybele Moon's original adaptation of a Celtic legend.  Follow the walk and read the story as you follow in the steps of Niamh as she searches for her scattered dreams.

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Storybrooke/20/13/32

     

    KNOW OF A COOL SPOKEN WORD OR STORYTELLING VENUE/EVENT? Send me a notecard (Caledonia Skytower) with the basics and a landmark, and I will be happy to check them out as a possible feature.

    This Month's Quote:  “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

    ― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

     

    IMAGE CREDITS: Caledonia Skytower

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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: May 2017

    This Month Featuring: Dubhna Rhiadra

    I still remember the first time I heard Dubhna ("Doov-na") Rhiadra tell a story in Second Life.  It was enough years ago that I cannot remember exactly how many.  She was presenting at a region that most likely is not longer in existence.  There was a circle of "foresty" things and a fire, and Dubhna telling tales of that North American trickster and purveyor of native wisdoms, Raven.  I was drawn in immediately, as Raven comes from my neck of North America, and because Dubhna's style of delivery is incredibly accessible.  Her voice carries the musical lilt of Britain and Wales, and there is nothing formal or formulaic about her storytelling.

    All these years later, I have stood around other story fires with Dubhna: telling tales together from the native lore of North America, musing in Celtic dreams, sharing our own writing in small group sessions which were insightful and thought-provoking.  She was the first person I had become friends with in virtual worlds that I actually met in the corporeal world - spending several delightful hours in a Seattle Tea Shop in that fascinating ritual of getting to know someone who you already seem to know.  Dubhna's stories and storytelling are a reflection of who she is: soulful, thoughtful, conscientious, full of conviction, and with an earthy humor that can side swipe you if you are not paying attention.

    Stories are hardwired into most of us - it's part of being human.  For Dubhna, telling stories and expressing ideas through art is a life-long practice. It's no surprise that we became friends, as we both came to writing later in our creative lives. "From my teens onward I would do cartoon stories, or just draw illustrations," Dubhna shared. "Then I became a dancer when I was in my 30s, and worked with disabled adults, doing music, art and dance for some years, then branched out on my own and worked in community dance in my own right, creating work for performance and teaching creative dance.  I finally found my way back to writing through story-telling."

    Rhiadra, who lives in Britain near London, had been telling stories of her own making, as well as traditional tales, for quite some time before she became involved with virtual worlds.  Storytelling in Second Life just seemed a natural fit, as did collaboration, and over the years Dubhna has created several dance-story-art performance pieces with other creative souls that she has encountered. 

    Her first love is folk-lore and folk-tales. "My idol and role-model is Angela Carter, who led the way in re-tellings of traditional tales for the modern age. I will share work by SF and fantasy authors if I can find a good extract.  I am always looking for new unexplored work that would be suitable." 

    The growth in spoken word popularity on the Second Life grid in recent years reflects a keen interest in poetry and storytelling done in the age-old manner through a new millennia medium. "I see more and more people coming in to listen and present work in this way in SL, which indicates that it's a thing that attracts and engages people. It's so easy to speak on voice, and  time spent researching subject matter means you start thinking about what you read in your daily life in a different way."  A naturally collaborative artist, Dubhna sees this further reflected in how other artists view the potential of adding spoken word components to their visual, music, or dance work.  She gives the example, "Years ago, very few LEA builds would have included a story-telling component, but now I am getting invitations from many different LEA projects. This in turn inspires me to write new material, or look at material - such as Victorian literature, that I may not have thought about before."

    Dubhna is currently engaged with JenniferMay Carlucci's  "Existence in the Balance" installation on LEA Region 18.  She has been sharing creation tales there over the last few months, since the installation opened. She has used her years as a folklorist and theologian, studying and reflecting on creation tales from many different cultures to create a new story of the creation of the world.  Set to the music of Ahnue Heartlight, she has created a fresh tale of the Earth's nativity that speaks to the people of the 21st century.  This new tale will debut Sunday, March 28th at 2pm slt on LEA 18.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA18/224/98/1191

     

    You can experience Dubhna's stories at The Magic Tree at Ce Soir Arts every other week, where she follows BrynTaleweaver on the Wednesday afternoon schedule (https://cesoirarts.com/).  She promotes her sessions through various groups in-world including The Storytelling Guild of Second Life, and through the Stories Unlimited! Subscriber Group. She also posts her events on facebook on the account CathAnne Blackfeather.

     

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

    FINAL WEEKEND: LEA Region 4 - Poetry of the Planets

    ~ Poetry & Stories of The Planets, Sunday, May 28th  3:30-4:30pm slt : readings from the many poems and stories composed, submitted and featured during the project.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA4/136/75/23

    ~ Jupiter's Ball, Monday, May 29th, 1-3 pm slt: A final celebration featuring the celestial tunes of DJ Dano Bookmite in the Jupiter Ballroom. 

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA4/161/56/2643

     A Poet's Plunder  Saturday mornings at 6am slt at the Bookworm Cafe  in SouthernTier, New York.  What's on Klannex's mind this week?  Get a hot cuppa and find out.  Klannex reads and opens the mic for others.  Plunder available for best original work. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/SouthernTier%20New%20York/136/23/25

    Niamh's Journey of Dreams continues at Mistwood Isle - CK Ballyhoo's newest watercolour creation inspired by Cybele Moon's original adaptation of a Celtic legend.  Take the walk and read the story as you follow in the steps of Niamh as she searches for her scattered dreams. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Storybrooke/20/13/32

    Know of a cool spoken word venue or project? Send me a notecard (Caledonia Skytower) with the basics and a landmark, and I will be happy to check them out as a possible feature.

    This Month's Quote:  “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.”

    ―  Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

    IMAGE CREDIT: Seanchai Library and StoryFest SL Archives, and Caledonia Skytower

     

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  • POETRY OF THE PLANETS Opens on LEA 4

    A new project opens on Linden Endowment for the Arts Region 4 Sunday, April 2nd.  Poetry of the Planets is a community poetry project conceived and created by Caledonia Skytower, known best for her work with Seanchai Library.  Skytower combines her decades of real world professional experience in theatrical design, with a life long involvement in both vocal and instrumental music, to conjure an installation whose intent is to inspire the writing of poetry.

    No stranger to writing Skytower, who has self-published nine titles of of fiction, poetry and reflective essays, sees this as a re-arrangement of something she has been doing for years. "This goes back to the beginning of my career, before i designed my first musicals and operettas.  I would always come up with a play list of music to have running while I worked on a show. I was weened on Disney's Fantasia, and I have a keen appreciation for how music can heighten a creative journey."

    Inspired by Gustav Holst's symphonic suite The Planets, Skytower has created seven "planets"  in the air above LEA 4, each themed to a different movement:  Venus; the Bringer of Peace, Mercury: the Winged Messenger, etc. Residents can teleport from the terrain level to each location, use a URL link station to play that particular movement of Holst's symphony in their internet browser, explore the environment that has been inspired by the music, and are then invited to be inspired themselves to write poetry.

    Poems can be submitted  to be the featured poem of the day on the  Poetry of the Planets project blog, which will also be shared on facebook and Google +. Writers retaining full rights to their compositions.   In May, Skytower will select poems to be featured at a live reading event.  Additionally, a poetry resource center is available at LEA 4 for those interested in cultivating their muse.

    Information can be found on the project blog, and at the installation itself.  Poetry of the Planets will be open through the end of May on LEA 4.

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA4/130/119/30

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