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The Newsletter of the Story Circle of the Capital District


Editor and Publisher: Claire Nolan 11 Norwood Street Albany, NY 12203 (518) 209-6477

Email: cbnolou@yahoo.com.

Visit our web site at http://timesunion.com/communities/storycircle

December 2007 – January 2008

The story of your life is not your life it is your story

John Barth, Novelist


Story Circle Business News


October at GPL  – facilitator – Joe Doolittle

Stories told by  Claire Nolan, Fran Combs-Burger, Adam Hoffman Eric Randall and two women whose names I do not have.  (Editor’s note, October Meeting Notes were not received in time for publication.)

Listeners: Patty Nolan, Kate Dudding, Nancy Marie Payne,

November at Colonie – facilitator Louise Koenig 

Micki Groper   "The Little Duck"

Louise Koenig  "If You Like Nightmares, Travel Today"

Listeners - Barbara Cullum and Bess Arden

 Meetings run from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the William K. Sanford Public Library and 6:00 to  9:00 p.m. at the Guilderland Library.  Every other month, from 6:15 to 6:45  at Guilderland, we will have a topic for panel/roundtable discussion. 

Please note date change for December -Tuesday December 18 - Nancy Payne facilitator


OPEN MICS in Saratoga – New dates!

Pencil in new dates to tell stories in SaratogaSaratoga open mic will now be on the Second Wednesday of each month. 


On Wednesday, December 12, 7:00 pm.  Signups to tell stories at 6;45. We hope to see you at Woodlawn Commons. The audience is warm, hospitable, and enthusiastic.  The cookies and punch are delicious.  And the stories we all tell--inspiring, funny, touching, always interesting--are the best part of all. Come and tell or come and listen.  FREE!


From Broadway in Saratoga, turn West on Church St. 

Turn right on Seward St.  (if you get as far as the hospital, you've gone one block too far).

Turn right again on Clement St. (at the 2nd stop sign)

Look for Hospice.  Woodlawn is the big yellow building nearby. (156 Lawrence St.)


Adult Programs

December 2,  5:00 Pm to 8:00 PM  Jeannine Laverty & Joe Peck: "Stories for the Season(s): Seed Catalogues, Stockings and Cows on Skates” Storytelling Dinner Series Continues Its Ninth Season.
Don't miss Story Sundays at the
Glen Sanders Mansion, 1 Glen Avenue, Scotia, New York,
Cost $27/person, menu options: London Broil, Chicken
Normandie, Vegetable Stir-fry,
(518) 384-1700aldenjoe@att.net. Or call Kate at (518) 384-1700 or email sc@katedudding.com Our ninth season!
It's not often you can hear two farmers from
Saratoga Springs telling stories on stage. Jeannine Laverty, master storyteller for many years, was raised on a farm in Iowa and has recently re-visited farming - Community Supported Agriculture – from which she has found many new sories.  Joe Peck has been a dairy farmer for nearly 50 years. He was raised on his family's farm near Saratoga Springs, where he still lives and works. He loves to share stories about his life there. Their storytelling is a shared experience between the listeners and the teller that combines the intensity of a one person play with the intimacy of a one-on-one conversation. Story Sundays is produced by the Story Circle of the Capital District www.timesunion.com/communities/storycircle.

December 13 Thursday, from 4-6pmBairbre McCarthy, Storytelling and Book signing on, at the NY Folklore Society, Gallery of Folk Art, 133 Jay St., Schenectady, NY. Telephone : 346 7008.  Bairbre will tell stories and sign copies of her books and CDs. This event is sponsored by the NY Folklore Society and is part of Downtown Schenectady's evening of "Magic and Melodies."


December 16 Sunday 7:30. “Frank-Lee Speaking” at the 8th Step at Proctors in Schenectady.    Solstice Program presented by Kim and Reggie Harris and Magpie.  Doors open at 7 pm.  Tickets are $21.00.  For more information and to purchase tickets for this delightful evening go to the 8th Step website: www.eighthstep.org.


February 1, 2 and 3 -- Jeannine Laverty's Annual Winter myth workshop will be at the Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, NY.  Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more details.  Call Jeannine at 518-587-8932 to hold your place.


Wednesday evenings March 5, 12, 19 2008 7-9 p.m. Marni Gillard will once again present a workshop for the Consultation Center. The classes are held at the Pastoral Center, 40 N. Main Ave. in Albany (parking available off street) Cost $35 (before 2/27) or $40 for the series. Call 518-489-4431 to register.  The topic is Stories That Lift The Spirit:  We carry within us memories, folktales, scriptural images, even poems that feed our spirits and give us the courage and calm we need to keep walking
the path. Marni will tell some tales and we'll work in partners to find and share the tales within that can serve us and the world. Bring a poem, passage or you especially love or just come open to looking within.

March 8 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Marni returns to Still Point Retreat Center (near Saratoga Lake) for a workshop entitled Celtic Guidance: From Irish Tales to Inner Landscapes. Marni will share tales from ancient Ireland and help participants explore how stories reverberate in us today. Drawing from  a variety of tales, we'll journey into the mystical hills of Ireland and our own fertile inner lives. You don't have to be Irish to find yourself in Celtic tales. Bring a journal or notebook, a favorite poem, photo, or object and your willingness to open to the Truth that lies within. Cost $65 includes vegetarian lunch. For more information, contact Still Point Retreat Center at or call 518-587-4967.

March 15  Women’s Symposium at
Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Marni, one of many presenters offering workshops on women’s health, spirituality, and history, will share insights on the power of telling life stories and give participants a chance to tell to a partner. For more information contact Carol Cownie at cmcownie@msn.com.


March 30, 2008 - Celebrating Tom Weakley at Lena's - After years of talking about it Tom Weakley says he's really going to retire.  Some of us thought it fun to use the excuse to draw him onto the stage one last time. (He maybe carrying a "going out of business" sign!) The program will be a benefit for FINCA International, the group which has fought poverty in the third world for the past 20 years by granting small loans to women.  That may or may not inform Tom's Stories that night, although we're prepared for him to tell anything he likes.  Hold the date!  Details to follow!

Late Spring 2008 TBA Marni will once again host nationally known STORYTELLING TEACHER and LIFE COACH Doug Lipman at a long weekend for 8 tellers, teachers, or artists in any field. Each participant receives three opportunities to be coached on a story, writing, song, project, or issue related to education or artistry. Participants in any field interested in using storytelling more effectively are welcome. The weekend is life-changing. Early registration is $427. The early bird deadline is not set yet since we’re still settling on the exact date. There is an additional food fee of $50 which covers dinners, breakfasts and snacks. Returnees receive an additional discount of $30. Free housing for out-of-towners. Contact Marni (
518-381-9474 or marni@marnigillard.com) for more details.


Family Programs

December 8 2-4 pm. Bairbre McCarthy, Storytelling and Book Signing at Celtic Treasures, 456 Broadway in Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Telephone : 518 583 9452.  Bairbre will tell stories from her latest book, The Keeper of the Crock of Gold, published last month in Ireland by Mercier Press. It is a hard-covered book, and includes 10 original leprechaun stories, beautifully illustrated by Czech artist, Oldrich Jelen. Borders in Ireland has chosen it as their children's book of the month.


December 19--Tales ‘n Tunes (Carol Connolly and Don Darmer) will  perform at the D.R. Evarts Library, Athens, NY. The family concert:  "Holiday Celebrations Around the World," is free and open to the  public.  Call (518) 945-1417 for time and directions.


Opportunities for Storytellers

As some of you have heard, Story Circle is going to become the Resident Storytelling Company at Proctors! To read about this  exciting development, including Word Plays, the first storytelling series there for adults, and how you can be a part of it, please see
www.katedudding.com/sc-at-proctors.html . NOTE: if you want to nominate yourself as a teller for Word Plays, the deadline is
Dec. 11, 2007.


Among Ourselves

News from Marni:
’I am just back from a week in
ISRAEL. I traveled as a pilgrim with a group of 23 including Fr. Kofi Ntsiful-Amassah, pastor of the Black Catholic Apostolate at St. Joan of Arc Church in Menands. I talked Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi, a storytelling friend, into going along and that added immeasurably to my delight. We laughed and cried and simply felt a profoundly deep sense of walking in the Bible stories we’ve heard all our lives. We walked the streets of Nazareth and Cana, rode across the Sea of Galilee and climbed the hill where Mary and her cousin Elizabeth met when they were both pregnant. We carried a large cross through the streets of Jerusalem, retracing Jesus’ journey to his death and saw remnants of his tomb, housed now in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We climbed the mountain of the Beatitudes, taxied up to where the Transfiguration  took place (where Moses and Elijah appeared as figures of light alongside Jesus) and walked up to the source of the Jordan where He once took his apostles to get away and to ask them, “Who do people say that I am.”  You could really feel a sense of Jesus as a man like Gandhi or King with a message of peace, love and forgiveness that his contemporaries didn’t get. I felt his deep discouragement in so many places – the Garden of Gethsemane of course, but also in Nazareth and Capernaum where those who knew him the best couldn’t see him as a prophet, let alone a messiah.

The land is alive with metaphor and lessons for our times with the Palestinian refugee problems and Jews wishing only for a land where they can pray, study, and thrive. Our guide was a 35 year old Palestinian mom of a 10 month old, sad to leave her baby for days on end, but so grateful to be employed. In
Bethlehem, Bethany, and Jericho, places mostly populated by Palestinians, we saw examples of refugee settlements. We also toured Bethlehem University which is about half Muslim and half Christian. The college kids had lots to say about the political situation. They were so grateful to be having access to a university education but many feared they wouldn’t find work once they graduated. There was sadness but also a wonderful energy and joy everywhere too.


Since her return to the states, Lorraine says she’s been looking closely at Luke’s gospel and finding the parables and "short stories" about Jesus are like Zen koans.  Last summer Paula Weis from the interfaith storytelling circle lent me “A Land Twice Promised” by storyteller Noa Baum, born and raised in Jerusalem. In her DVD performance she tells both sides of the Jewish-Palestinian story from the point of view of 4 women.  While in Israel, I felt like I was walking the story Noa tells. I highly recommend that DVD available at http://noabaum.com/index.php?page=resources.


I recommend any journey to a place where you can “walk in stories.”’



Dues are Due!


Story Circle dues are due in January. Dues are $10.00 per person. By paying dues, you are listed on the Story Circle Membership List, are eligible to be included in our Roster of Tellers, receive bi-monthly issues (by snail mail or email) of our newsletter, the Talespinner, and are eligible for a discount on SCCD sponsored workshops with national tellers. So, mail your dues to Carol Connolly Carol Connolly,  1100 Niskayuna Road, Niskayuna, NY 12309.  Use

the form in the Talespinner.



A review of Tellabration November 18, 2007

Time to Tellabrate

By Adam Hoffman


            Being an amateur storyteller, interested in the spinning of yarns for fun and as a way to pass the time, has its unique advantages.  For one, I’ve become aware of the styles and habits of local professional storytellers.  Some I know by first name (though I do have the habit of forgetting those names at times).  At the same time, I still approach much of the storytelling scene from the outside, as an audience member.  So it was on November 18 of 2007 that I set out to see my first Tellabration.  Tellabration, held every November, is one of the biggest yearly events in storytelling circles.  It is held around the world to help fund local storytelling programs.  So, with plenty of lead time, Mapquest directions and slightly conflicting directions from my father, I headed off in the direction of Schenectady and the First Unitarian Society.  Naturally, I got lost on the way.  When I finally found my way there, I was surprised at what I saw.  I had expected a pretty good turnout, but there were many more people than I had expected.  Perhaps my expectations were colored by having only been to monthly Story Circle meetings, where there are considerably fewer people (of course, it seems obvious in retrospect that more of the public would naturally be interested in hearing stories than telling their own).  The place was a flurry of activity.  People I knew and people I didn’t know where rushing around, meeting people, setting up the sale table with books and CDs, setting up tables with refreshments for intermission, taking raffle tickets and so on.  It was quite a sight to see.  Eventually, the room settled down, the lights dimmed and the program began in earnest.  Joe Doolittle was the first to come on stage as one of the co-Masters of Ceremonies, introducing us all to what was designed to be a night of stories made to make people laugh, the second half of his introduction being delivered while wearing a rather nice, red clown nose. 


First up was Frances Combs Berger, telling a story from her youth highlighted by the humor that comes from sibling relations.  She was followed by a rather touching story delivered by Betty Cassidy.  Next up was Margaret French, telling a story of a vacation gone awry.  This story was delivered with such calm, quiet wit and deadpan brilliance it would have made Bob Newhart jealous that someone was using his own style of comedy so well.  After that, Kathleen Gill presented a humorous, modernized take on the European folk tale of the Straw Ox.  I’m led to think that if any of the major movie studios need help with scripting their various movies poking fun at and updating classic folk and fairy tales, they may as well give Kathleen Gill a call.  I’d imagine she’d be just as good as many of the people working for Dreamworks.  Last up on the roster before intermission was Marni Gillard with an old Irish folktale.  Now, these next statements are not meant as a slight to any of the other storytellers I know. Also, my opinion may be colored by the fact that I once spent one whole Story Circle alone with Marni Gillard just telling stories and letting the critique process fall by the wayside for a night.  However, there are few people I know who embrace the sheer joy and fun of storytelling like Marni Gillard does.  Our emcee expressed the fact that he was unsure if someone could actually make a story entitled “The Corpse Watchers” into a humorous tale.  I was pretty sure that if anyone could do it, it would be Marni.  I was right.  Marni’s delivery of the story perfectly enhanced the more absurd elements of the story and didn’t let the creepy parts overtake them.  She would often go down into the audience and talk directly to the audience, getting reactions ranging from the confused to the comical.


            Next was intermission.  As is usually the case with intermissions, I ate too much of things that I generally shouldn’t have eaten at all.  At least it tasted good.  Upon returning to the program, we were met with a new co-emcee, Kate Dudding, and the bad news that storyteller Nancy Marie Payne was under the weather and couldn’t make it.  We needn’t have worried though, seeing as Kate herself chose to step up and fill in with her own story.  Now, what I know of Kate’s material largely stems from her love of history and her desire to craft stories from it.  I was in for a pleasant surprise when she told a Syrian story that I’m pretty sure never appeared in a history book in any form.  Though, I’m pretty sure that many of the people who’ve known her longer than I have would have known the depth of her material better and probably not have been quite so surprised with the stories she’s capable of telling.  My experience probably just scratches the surface.  The night continued with three great storytellers.  Claire Nolan told a humorous tale of the pitfalls of married life inspired by her parents.  Karen Pillsworth told a Native American folk tale spun to have her own humorous interpretation.  The event wrapped up with a personal story from Christie Keegan, reflecting the humor that can only come from the troubles of falling in love and growing up. 


I was satisfied with all the stories I had heard and with the discovery that the program had gone on an hour more than it was originally advertised on the flyer I had gotten.  Oh, well.  I’ll be prepared next time.  There will be a next time.  I had such a blast this time that I’d have to try it again.  Maybe I’ll even try to bring someone else along.  The one thing I hope is that next time I won’t end up getting lost on the way there and on the way back like I did this time.

Thanks Adam and to all -

See You Next Time!


All meetings are held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday or Wednesday of the month alternating between Tuesdays in odd numbered months at the William K. Sanford Library and Wednesdays in even numbered months at the Guilderland Public Library.


DIRECTIONS: The Guilderland Public Library is located at 2228 Western Avenue, Guilderland, 1/2 mile west of Rte. 155 on the south side of Western Avenue.


The William K. Sanford Library is located at 629 Albany Shaker Road, just off Northway Exit 4, and 1/4 mile east of the intersection of Wolf Road and Albany Shaker Road on the left side. 

December 18* Round Table and Holiday Meeting (GPL) – 6:15 – 9:00 Nancy Payne Facilitator *Note Date Change!*










(  ) I want to be a member of Story Circle, enclosed is a check for $10.00 for the newsletter and a roster of members. Renewal January of each year.

(  ) List my name among performing storytellers for referral.

(  ) Send my newsletters via US mail.  

(  ) Send my newsletters via Email.

Membership renewals are due each January and are good for one year.  Please make checks payable to “Story Circle” and send to Carol Connolly, 

1100 Niskayuna Road, Niskayuna, NY 12309



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