Chances are that, regardless of your generation, story time was an integral part of your childhood. If you are like me, tales of medieval princesses and heroes were a staple growing up; however, it’s not just for kids anymore.
By contemporary standards, most of us may pigeonhole storytelling to children’s books and bedtime stories, but the truth of the matter is that storytelling has been and still is a highly valued art form. Since the earliest moments of humanity, people have been telling stories to preserve the history of their communities and pass down tales of their adventures. When we consider the role of these stories in each of our lives, we begin to realize the importance of folktales and fairytales in shaping our culture and collective memory. In more recent times, storytelling has evolved to become a serious form of performance art with competitions to see who can best engage the imagination of eager listeners.
The Family Storytelling Series at Godfrey Daniels has become a regular part of their programming, and for good reason, too. As a part of their partnership with the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild, these events bring both children and adults together to engage in the universally enjoyable performance of live storytelling, which takes those old bedtime stories and transforms them into a passionate performance recounting stories from across the globe.
On March 17th, Denise McCormack took the stage for Godfrey Daniel’s Storytelling Series. McCormack, a highly accomplished storyteller, chose the theme of “Medieval Tales and Slavic Sagas” for the set of stories she would tell during this performance. Most of these were taken from the Song Cycles of Kiev—a classic Russian storybook—and included tales such as “Ilya and Cloudfall” and “How Stavr the Noble was Saved by a Woman’s Wiles.” Watching McCormack tell her stories was an absolutely magical experience, and her passion for her craft shined through in her performance. It was clear that she was entirely invested in the stories she chose to share, and in a way, it felt as though she was sharing a personal piece of herself through her art form. As soon as McCormick started to tell her first story, her voice immediately shifted as she began to speak with an intense power and emotion that pulled me into the tale. Her speech and body language throughout the performance was thoroughly captivating and helped vividly animate her characters. At many points, I found myself entirely in my own head, envisioning the story in my mind’s eye and engaging in the storytelling process in my own way to help bring it to life. My favorite part of the afternoon was the moment I realized that the art of storytelling does not solely rely on the storyteller but on the audience as well, making us all participants instead of spectators.
Godfrey Daniels hosts storytelling sessions with the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild every first and third Sunday from January through April. For more information regarding Godfrey Daniels’ Storytelling Series and other events, please visit their website or Facebook page. For more information regarding the storyteller Denise McCormick, visit her website for upcoming events and videos of past performances.