Once upon a time, at the very beginning of human time itself, long before we learned how to write, we told stories. Throughout history, oral stories were an important way of passing down information and a to understand the world. The drive to create, understand, and connect is one of the facets that makes us human and storytelling lets us express that desire. It is, therefore, a universal expression of our humanity. The Ottawa StoryTellers have been around for decades and exist to promote the art of storytelling in the community. Their 2015-2016 Speaking Out/Speaking In debut show, A Winter Tale: The Journey of the Blind Harper, tells of Turlough O’Carolan, Ireland’s famous blind harper of the 18th century. Written by Laurie Fyffe, Kim Kilpatrick and Emily Pearlman and performed by Kim Kilpatrick, Emily Pearlman and harpist Lucile Brais Hildesheim, the story enchants and delivers a cozy evening that spirits us away to far off lands, a long time ago.
A well-crafted story enchants us into its world. It seduces the audience to seamlessly blend their reality and its fiction into one experience. A good story teller sets the atmosphere, but allows the audience to build the sets, cast of characters, and add any details omitted from the telling. This can be overwhelming for the story tellers, but it can be just as intense for the audience. Both, in a sense, are laid bare on the stage. They have nothing to hide behind – no theatrical or technical tricks to hide behind; just words, and imagination.
There is a resurgence in the kind of story telling the Ottawa StoryTellers engage with. They’ve been around for a while and the experience shows. A Winter Tale: The Journey of the Blind Harper is well written, well-paced, and told with such warmth and love that the audience can’t help but go along for the ride.
The first in a series of seven original productions of Speaking Out/Speaking In, A Winter’s Tale played for one night only, December 17, 2015. Shows are once a month until June 2016. Order your tickets through the NAC Box Office at: nac-cna.ca/en/community/packages/ottawa-storytellers
Lucile Brais Hildesheim