Franklin Countys First News

Storytelling workshop is May 18

Jo Radner (Photo by Heather Kelley)

LIVERMORE FALLS - “We never tell stories at home anymore!”

The members of Western Maine Storytelling hear this lament over and over again – and they are on a crusade to reverse the trend.

In this era of multitasking, tweeting, texting, and other “social” media, broadcasting sometimes seems more common than conversation.

“We communicate screen to screen more than face to face,” said storyteller Jo Radner, “but we hunger for the simple give-and-take of telling and listening to stories.”

Research has shown that reminiscence gives much more than pleasure: it connects strangers, strengthens the links between generations, and gives children a crucial sense of identity. Knowledge of family history has even been linked to better teen behavior and mental health.

On Thursday, May 18 at Treat Library in Livermore Falls, Western Maine Storytelling will be sponsoring Radner’s popular workshop, “How To Recall and Tell Our Family Stories.” Participants will learn foolproof ways to mine their own memories and interview their relatives for engaging stories. In pairs and small groups they will practice finding, developing, and telling their own tales. “No one will be on the spot to perform,” says Radner, “but I guarantee that everyone will remember stories they want to share informally.”

Aimed at adults, the workshop will benefit anyone interested in investigating or remembering past events, writing memoirs, researching family history, or simply developing habits of meaningful conversation. Participants will leave with new ideas, new stories, and a handout on techniques and resources.

Made possible by grants from the Maine Humanities Council and United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, the workshop will take place at Treat Library, 56 Main Street, Livermore Falls, on Thursday, May 18, from 6:00-7:30 pm. WMS will also present a performance, “Sharing Our Stories: A Community Celebration,” at the Treat Library on Thursday, June 1, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, email westernmainestorytelling@gmail.com or call (207) 645-2982.

Folklorist, storyteller, writer, and oral historian, Jo Radner creates personal tales and stories about the people of northern New England. In recent years Jo has helped various immigrant, refugee, and community groups collect their stories and fashion them into public presentations. Jo is past president of the American Folklore Society and the National Storytelling Network. Retired from a teaching career at American University, she has been studying, teaching, telling, and collecting stories most of her life. She lives in Lovell, Maine, and can be reached at jradner@american.edu.

Organized in 2011, Western Maine Storytelling is a group of storytellers and story-lovers who present programs and support the art of storytelling in the region for audiences of all ages. The family storytelling workshop is part of “A Community Celebration of Stories!” – a series of workshops and informal performances in four towns—Livermore Falls, Wilton, Rangeley, and Farmington—presented by Western Maine Storytelling.

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