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Future Dreams and Present Undertakings 

Good news for the Two Women. All of a sudden, it’s all set. We are going to the annual FEST (the Federation of European Storytellers) gathering in Rome in June and have then been invited to present The Book of Spells at the International Festival of Storytelling Raccontamiunastoria

in that ancient city. All this on top of also voyaging to England for a performance of The Book of Spells in Brighton along with a chance for me to present Who Wants the Dress? in Surrey and Sun Horse Moon Horse in Yorkshire. Trust me, more details will follow!

In the meanwhile, of course, we’re focusing on our upcoming 2wp performances of The Odyssey with Ottawa tellers Gail Anglin and Ellis Lynn Duschenes -- the close-out to our third full season. What a success this season’s been. One more spur to our desire to bring the best that storytelling can offer to an ever-widening range of audiences. Indeed, we even have plans for the “ever-widening” part. More to follow on that too.

For the four of us, coming back to The Odyssey is almost like coming home. It’s hard to believe but this great epic has been in our lives for almost twenty years now. How good it feels to speak once more of the wine dark sea and dawn with her rosy fingers; to bring to our listeners the terrible struggle to overcome the Cyclops, the delights of Circe, the ferocious battle Odysseus must take on to rid his home of Penelope’s suitors, the tender reunion the two share. That’s my section and I have always loved it for its humanness, its clear evocation of how difficult it is for two people to come together after long separation no matter how much they love each other; how much they have yearned for just this time. 

Work with other storytellers goes on too. I wrote a blog not so long ago about the frequent need to let go of ideas and phrases, structures and images we’d thought essential in the creation of some piece. This week brought us the opposite – a portion of a planned performance that had hit the cutting room floor but which now had to be re-instated; a portion which had moved from being a pleasant but unneeded diversion to becoming an absolute necessity.

How could that happen? It happened because it had to. Because originally that portion had been pushing the whole in some direction that left too much of what was going to be important out. The teller had to get rid of it so she herself could see more clearly what her story really is.

It might easily have happened that that portion needed to stay gone but, as the teller edged up on what she hadn’t even known she wanted to be saying and discovered the means to take hold of it, the piece began to find its true voice and shape. That shape called back what had had to be omitted. As I said before, the process of creation is a mystery, a fluidity, an ever-moving target. We simply cannot afford to forget that.

The news today is still all of the Boston Marathon. How could it possibly be anything else? I’m not exactly an athlete but I do know the joys of competing, the delights of being a spectator. I’ve lived with athletes. I know their commitment, the exhilaration the rest of us get from watching them give their all. The Olympics last summer were for me a lifeline in a hard time. I watched every minute I could manage, not just for the distraction but because the beauty of the body’s strength that was made so visible gave me a touch of faith in my own. I grieve for the hideous loss of all those who have suffered but also I grieve for the marring of this wondrous event. I think we need to let ourselves feel the pain before we give any thought to powers of healing. Feeling the pain is one more way of recognizing just what has been taken from us. 

Love to each and every, Jan


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