Press Play to hear Ruth Stotter speak on working with props in storytelling performances on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.
(Link was broken NOW fixed - sorry about that.)
Ruth Stotter Writes....
I love the idea that as a storyteller, you travel light. A "bag" of stories takes up no room and is easy to carry around. But I also love interspersing stories with props - both as a folklorist carrying on old traditions and as a way of adding a visual component. Puppets, masks, and origami are among my favorites. You asked why I am currently so intrigued with string stories and I will try to answer. It never ceases to amaze me that with a simple loop of string you can make hundreds of figures, and that these string designs can be used to tell stories.I think they were the first picture books. Tellers in traditional cultures twisted and turned the string to make illustrations to accompany their oral texts.
When I went to Easter Island, where they still hold an annual string story competition, I found that they were using a rough hewn string from a plant and told stories in the old Rapa Nui language, not the modern Rapa Nui, nor Spanish, which is the official language. In Fiji I met a man who easily copied my string figures. I found it difficult to learn his, as I am used to book illustrations. Besides stories, of course, the loop of string is used for stunts and magic tricks.
Organizing the String Gathering in San Francisco in 2004 I was happy to meet other members of the International String Figure Association. This organization sends members a monthly string figure-design as well as various newsletters and books. Several of the people who attended the Gathering brought power point presentations of their experiences collecting string figures from Yupik Eskimoes, Navajos, and various Oceanic Rim countries.
I was pleased to be invited to write the section "String Figures" for Storytelling: An Encyclopedia of Storytelling and Folklore, edited by Josepha Sherman. That led to my writing A Loop of String.
So, you see, my friends, all of my interests - origami, puppets, magic, folklore and storytelling - coalesce in this seemingly simple folk craft! I guess the bottom line (literally in this letter ) is that as a storyteller I find it challenging and irresistible to adapt and adopt string figures as part of my storytelling performance.
Bio: Ruth Stotter's kaleidoscope activities in storytelling include telling stories at a local Rennaisance Faire for six summers, producing and hosting "The Oral Tradition" radio program on KUSF-SF for six years, directing the Dominican University storytelling program for 14 years*, teaching and performing in Portugal, France, England, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, India and Africa. She is the author of About Story, More About Story, The Golden Axe, Smiles: 101 Stunts and You're On!. She has chaired and presented papers at meetings of the American Folklore Society and for several years served on the ASF Aesop Committee, which selects the best children's books based on folklore. Her honors include the Reading the World Award from the University of San Francisco, a regional award from NAAPS, and most recently an Oracle Lifetime Achievement Award from NSN. She is listed in Who's Who in American Education, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the World.
M.A. Stanford University - Speech Pathology
M.A. Sonoma State University - Storytelling
University of California, Berkeley - Teaching Credentials
Conducted workshops at National Conferences of NAPPS and NSN: Tandem Storytelling, Story Adaptation, Storytelling with Props, and at the 2010 conference July 2010, Storytelling with String. Performed at Storytelling Festivals in Canada, MA and California. Monthly performances for two years at College of Marin bookstore.
Classes taught: Beginning Storytelling, Intermediate Storytelling, Advanced Storytelling (putting as program together), Pre-School Storytelling, Analyzing Stories, Storytelling with Props, Critique Clinic.
Workshops taught: Tandem Storytelling, Creating Original Stories
author of Little Acorns: A Guide to Marin County Plants
Kayaker - from island to island in Fiji, in Baja, Florida Keys and San Francisco Bay.
Hiker: walked from Zurich to Geneva over 5 mountain passes. Annapurna trek. Peru trek, John Muir trail form Yosemite to Mammoth
Married over fifty years with three children
Competitive Croquet player (and has won several trophies). Current handicap is 13.
about string stories:
Ruth finds it amazing that with a simple square of paper or a loop of string hundred of figures can be created and stories can be told and notes that both of these are traditional art forms in other cultures. In 2004, Ruth hosted the first String Gathering for String Enthusiasts in San Francisco, and stringers attended from 13 states.
You buy some of Ruth Stotter's Books on the Jackie Baldwins Story Lovers Website at http://www.story-lovers.com/productsstotter.html