Slartist

The Spoken Word


  • 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

    Read more »

  • 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

     

    Read more »

  • A Storyteller's Notebook: April 2017

    This Month Featuring: "Niamh's Journey of Dreams" Opens, plus Events Update

    Storytelling takes many forms as it weaves its intrinsic presence through our lives, bringing meaning and expression to our terrestrial sojourn.  We think of stories most frequently in terms of words, but visual artists and musicians will be quick to point out that their work has a narrative just as valid as poem or prose. That very lack of singularity of form is part of what makes this month's feature one I have been eagerly awaiting.

    Opening April 19th on Storybrooke Island is the newest of artist Ceakay Ballyhoo's art-story installations, done in a collaboration with artist-storyteller Cybele Moon.  What is wonderful to me about this particular project is the contrast between the two styles, and how they pull together to present Moon's Niamh's Journey of Dreams, adapted from her Tales of the Tuatha.


    Ceakay Ballyhoo is well known for her wonderful virtual photography, and visual art.  Last fall she moved into a new area of expression in Second Life with her installation A Watercolour Wander as an AIR (Artist in Residence) Linden Endowment for the Arts region recipient.  In that project she blended real world brush-strokes, texturing her fanciful build inspired by a story of her own composing.  She followed that up this winter with The Forest Beyond, a further adventure of her young heroine Elle in a new magical painted realm.  Ballyhoo maintains her painterly style in this new collaboration with Moon, bringing someone else's tale to life.

    Cybele Moon's style is very different. "I have a mix of SL and RL in my photos," she shared, "For me, there is only a fine line between a perception of reality and a vision, and so, as with all things my work is constantly changing and evolving." Always appreciative of well told tales, she began writing little stories and poems as a child, coming to photography only recently. "I love the dreamy  atmosphere in SL which fits in with many of my own tales. Traveling in RL has also inspired me to write and many of my stories have emerged from those experiences."

    Inspired by Oscar Wilde stories while growing up, Moon's tales are additionally influenced by her travels to North Africa, Central America , Italy etc - and her previous homes in Ireland and Scotland. Her writing is strong on myth and legend, and she is quick to add " I also enjoy historic mystery and science fiction."

    Niamh's Journey of Dreams, is Moon's adaptation from the classic Celtic tale of Oisin and Niamh: two beings from different realms who fall in love and are happily joined in the realm of the sidhe (faerie) until he (Oisin) begins to long to see his kin one more time.  This telling of the tale is done from the fae maiden Niamh's perspective, not always one reflected in traditional versions, and is woven through with other icons of Celtic legend including selkies, kelpies, and the Morrigan.  Visitors can follow the narrative through a series of story panels, which each dispense a notecard with the text.

    I have also been invited to present live story tours, the first being Wednesday, April 19th at Noon, with another offered Sunday, May 14th at 11am.  All times are slt.

    You can connect with both Ceakay's and Cybele's work through their blogs

    Ceakay Ballyhoo ~ https://ceakayballyhoo.wordpress.com/

     Cybele Moon ~  http://cybeleshineblog.wordpress.com/

     Visit Niamh's Journey of Dreams at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Storybrooke/20/13/32

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

    Fantasy Faire LitFest - April 20 - 30: A kaleidoscope of literary inspired events from author presentations, writing challenges, storytelling, and other performances - all benefiting Relay for Life.  This year's LitFest features a special Tolkien Day on April 26th, Hugo-nominated author Seanan McGuire, creator if the October Daye series, and much more. See the event-packed schedule at https://fantasyfairesl.wordpress.com/literary-festival-event-details/

    LEA Region 4 - Poetry of the Planets: An invitation to write poetry inspired by Gustav Holst's symphonic suite The Planets and seven sky spheres ("planets") thematically designed for each movement of the suite.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA4/130/119/30

     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:  “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."

    ―  Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

    IMAGE CREDIT: "Firefly Forest Bright" and "Oisin Riding" provided by Cybele Moon; Niamh's Journey Poster by Ceakay Ballyhoo; Fantasy Faire Literary Festival poster provided by Fantasy Faire SL.

     

     

    Read more »

  • A Storyteller's Notebook: March 2017

    This Month Featuring: Votarn Torvalar, plus Events Update

    When I first entered the forum of Spoken Word in Second Life, over eight years ago, there was a lot of stress placed on "readers" versus "tellers" of stories.  In the virtual world, a practiced ear can tell if a story is being told or read, but the difference between them hinges on performance.  There are people doing spoken word stories that are clearly reading, and others who blur the line through their use of voice and style.  An important thing to note is that you should never read someone else's work, published or not, without giving clear credit to the author.  It is in all our best interests to support the rights of creators of all kinds, and that includes authors.

    Performance is the realm from which this month's feature comes.  Votarn Torvalar (known as "VT") spent 20 years in the corporeal world as a performer, before becoming an educator. He worked for many years in schools and colleges, coming to Second Life eight years ago.  Hailing from southeast England, not far from the White Cliffs of Dover, VT has been active in SL role play including Gorean.  His virtual storytelling career began when he started reading for a friend several years ago, which morphed into the reading from author-educator John Norman's extended works to various interested groups.  The success of that endeavor eventually broadened to include all sorts of stories, which he has been reading primarily for interested friends in his own library at his SL home, The iPatch.

    VT's presentation style is mature, with his experience as a performer reflected in the broad array of characters he vocally portrays in his current weekly readings at iPatch, featuring various works by the late, brilliant Terry Pratchett.  "I don't get bored with them. I prefer material with a good amount of dialogue rather than descriptive passages," VT shared when asked about his personal love for Pratchett's Discworld series.

    While he tries to limit his schedule to allow himself suitable time to prepare material, VT has been heard outside of his home venue, participating in group events with Seanchai Library, including at this year's SL Dicken's Project.  He is currently participating in readings being held on LEA Region 10 in the Whitechapel-London 1888 installation - presenting Victorian tales and authors at 1 pm slt on Mondays at the Whitechapel Story Corner (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA10/191/217/28). 

    As VT's Discworld sessions (currently featuring Pyramids) are held on private land, I am reticent to openly publish the grid address.  However, those sessions are posted in the daily Stories Unlimited! notecard for Friday's at 2pm slt.  If you are not in that subscriber group and are interested in attending, I suggest you make a polite inquiry by notecard to Votarn Torvalar himself. (NOTE: VT has informed me that all are welcome at the iPatch.  Please be aware that the region is rated "Adult." http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Neomah/141/178/27)

    Stories Unlimited! is a subscriber information group specifically promoting story-based events, including literary readings, theater, machinima, dance, poetry.  It just has to have, and express, a plot. (send me a notecard with your name if you'd like to be added).

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

    LEA Region 10 - Whitechapel-London 1888: Readings from a variety of Victorian sources and pastiches, presented by a confederation of talented voices.  Session are currently on Mondays at 1pm, Tuesdays at 4:30pm, Thursdays at 1:30pm & 4pm, and Fridays at 11am.  Content covers everything from Penny Dreadfuls to "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA10/191/217/28

    VOLUME IX: Seanchai Library Celebrates:  One of the longest running story presentation venues on the Second Life Grid celebrates 9 years of stories - thousands of hours, hundreds of titles, dozens of genres - on Sunday, March 26th.  The festivities start with Chili Cook-Off Stories and a Recipe Exchange at 1pm, followed by a dance party to the Hit Tunes of DJ Dano Bookmite from 2-4pm.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bradley%20University/101/208/28

    Boudicca Reads: Continuing her presentation of C.S. Lewis'The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Boudicca Amat reads at An Uncertain Destiny on Mystic, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:15pm. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Mystic/160/224/28

    The Forest Beyond: Ceakay Ballyhoo's current art and story installation at Mistwood Isle on Storybrooke. The original tale, written by Ceakay, is available on a notecard at the beginning point of the installation, and further live voice story tours are scheduled.  Story tour times and dates will be posted in Stories Unlimited! and also by inquiry to Ceakay, herself. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Storybrooke/241/243/23

    COMING IN APRIL:

    • A new art and story installation by Ceakay Ballyhoo featuring the work of Hana Hoo.
    • Stories at Filling the Cauldron, a benefit for Elicio Ember at Holly Kai Park, Saturday, April 8th at 1pm.
    • Seanchai Library presents stories at the Kultivate Spring Art Show - April 9th from 3-4pm
    • Poetry of the Planets community poetry project opens on LEA 4
    • Fantasy Faire's LitFest 2017 opens April 20th.

    All listed times are "slt."

    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:  “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

    ― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

    Read more »

  • INTRODUCING: A Storyteller's Notebook

    This Month Featuring: Introduction and Ce Soir Arts

    by Caledonia Skytower

    There has been a resurgence of spoken word events on the Second Life grid in the past 18 months, specifically of prose. That is heartening to someone like myself  who has been involved in performing and producing such events for nearly nine years now. In my capacity as Lead Staff at Seanchai Library, and owner of the Stories Unlimited information group, I have been approached by no less than four builds currently underway that are actively planning spoken voice events as part of their project design.  And there are more than a half a dozen new and very talented voice presenters active on a regular basis. People are starting to get it.  Well, most people are.

    There are still those who don't get the difference between the emotional immediacy of a live reading, and the consistency of a recorded audio track. They are not the same, and while they both express word and plot successfully, they achieve this with slightly different outcomes.  It is similar to comparing the storytelling properties of theater with cinema: one is a unique moment shared between audience and performer/presenter, the other is exactly the same expressed experience every time you engage it.  Add to this the legal complications of recording any literature outside of public domain without the author's permission, and in a way that still gives you the essence of the narrative, and you can understand why live readings and storytelling might be not just more emotionally compelling, but frankly easier and more convenient to present.

    This new monthly post in SLArtist will feature stories of events, venues, and storytellers presenting in Second Life.  Like my information subscriber group, Stories Unlimited!, it will represent any non-role-play expression of a story regardless of the format: literature, traditional telling, dance, theater, poetry.  It just has to have a plot.  Initially I will focus on live presenters, venues, and spoken word  based projects; but features will not necessarily be limited to that.

    In this first column I am proud to feature Ce Soir Arts which serves as a home for music, visual art, and presents an abundance of spoken word offerings at its reading spot: The Magic Tree.

    Aeon and Mirielle Jenvieve-Woodford opened Ce Soir in January of 2012.  Their intent has always been to be a venue that supported multiple art forms, and that became personified early on by Russell Eponym: artist, musician, author, storyteller.  Eponym is the Poet Laureate at Ce Soir Arts, and maintains an active weekly presence. Russell headlines the Tuesday spoken word line up, with a popular noon session that encompasses music, poetry, stories, and a weekly "thought of the day."

    Others in the current spoken word line up include long time virtual storyteller and author Dubhna Rhiadra, Bryn Taleweaver, and myself presenting a broad spectrum from original works and adaptations, to beloved pieces of classical literature.  Brand new to the Tuesday and Wednesday menu is Mr. G. Darkrose, currently reading from the first of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. On special occasions, the owners add their own contributions to these bountiful offerings.  The environment is beautiful and magical, graciously hosted by the owners, with lots of additional features to explore including: Château Ce Soir, Côte de la Mer Galerie & Lawn (currently featuring the work of Silas Merlin), Witchwood Hollow, The Graveyard Dungeon, Dover Beach Theatre, and The Conservatory and Oracle Parlour.

    To learn more about Ce Soir, visit their blog

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/165/136/32

    You can find Ce Soir Spoken word events posted through the group Storytelling Guild of Second Life, in SL Events, and through the Stories Unlimited! subscriber information group (send me a notecard with your name if you'd like to be added).

    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:  “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”  ― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

     Photo images of Ce Soir Arts by Caledonia Skytower

    Read more »