BY BARRY WARNER
Earlier this month, professional storytellers and student members of the Clarkstown North High School and Lakeland High School Storytelling Clubs took part in the 17thAnnual Rockland County Storytelling Festival at the Haverstraw Center. The event was sponsored by the Rockland Teachers Center Institute.
Before the Internet, newspapers, radio, and television, the world relied on storytellers for entertainment. Storytellers often told magical tales about strange and faraway lands that would also teach listeners valuable lessons. These stories were passed down through the centuries by word of mouth.
Counted among the most ancient of arts, storytelling is much different from simply reading a story. A storyteller learns and internalizes their story. Then they recreate it from memory, using their voice and body to convey its meaning.
At the November 17 event, professional storytellers mesmerized the audience by with the following stories during 15 minute presentations: Elise Krakower- “Apple of Contentment”; Stuart Nager- “Masillo’s South African Adventure”; Pamela Schembri- “The Turtle and the Bear” and Jonathan Kruk- “The Culprit Fairy”. In addition, student Sean recounted the tale of ‘Hairy Toe’ and Eleanor, also a student, related the narrative of ‘The Dark House’ during a 5-minute segment.
“Storytelling is an interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of the story, while encouraging the listeners’ imaginations,” said Professional Storyteller Stuart Nager. “I use the method of ‘call and response’ to engage and involve the audience.”
Ann-Marie Savastian, Coordinator of the Clarkstown High School Storytelling Club said that student involvement in the storytelling club provides benefits, like improved public speaking, and greater self-confidence.
It also provides an outlet that helps teens to learn how to think and be creative. The positive atmosphere of exploring their innate talents, while learning to work with others in the club, can be a boost to their self-esteem.