by Claire Edwards
Ever since I began university, I wanted to attend storytelling events. For my first couple of years, I watched from afar and heard whispers about this so-called Storytelling Circle from family and people I encountered who are involved with the local folk art community. I read the newsletters, and every month I thought about going but was hesitant to go alone so I never went.
Tonight. I have a summer job with the Storytelling festival as the Programming and Promotions Assistant. I took the opportunity to go, with the comfort of knowing people I know will be there. I grab my friend Josh, who also has been wanting to go to these events but not alone. We take the bus down to The Crow’s Nest Officers’ Club and were genuinely confused about how to get in.
“It says members only?” Josh says, looking at me with a puzzled gaze.
“It says to let the staff know that you’re there,” I reply matter of factly. “C’mon, let’s go in.” Being the impulsive person I am, I open the door without hesitation.
“Do we go down there?” He asked once we went through the first door.
“Hmm, I think it’s upstairs. I hear voices,” I answer.
Josh nodded and followed me up a very narrow and steep staircase. Once we got to the top, it was pretty obvious why this place has ‘crow’s nest’ in the name. Looking out the windows, you could see the city’s harbourfront. We were greeted by Kailey, the storytelling coordinator, and the rest of the board. We introduce ourselves and sit down. The ambiance of the bar is rustic and replicative of a ship’s cockpit. The walls are covered by ship crests and other nick knacks, the atmosphere friendly and warm. Josh and I find a table to sit at, and wait for the tellers to start.
“We’re the youngest people here,” I say with a chuckle, looking around. The bar is packed, and I’m impressed that the Storytelling Circle has such a robust audience.
“Yeah, but I’m okay with it,” Josh replies with a grin, and I nod in agreement.
The host, Charis Cotter stands up next to a stool and the front of the bar and introduces herself as a collector and teller of local ghost stories. I notice the audience coming to attention as soon as she starts talking. Everyone is very attentive and respectful, it’s a reassuring and relaxing environment.
“… please God, not again,” Charis says as she finishes a story about disappearing ships. She then introduces the next teller, Angus Anderson.
Angus talks about growing up in Nain, and the stories he heard from his older relatives about encountering European settlers on the coast of Labrador. “Avoided them for the next hundreds of years,” says Angus, as he talks about how the community of Nain came to be.
The next teller is Daryl Williams. He delivers a tale about traditional Newfoundland meals. “My mother
who was a fantastic cook..” he says and describes the enterprise stove she used. Daryl finishes with a ballad like recitation about his love of homemade bread, and the audience claps.
Two guests from Israel perform next, an Israeli folklorist named Yoel Perez, and his son Hagay. Yoel tells a story about a little boy playing hide and seek with a pupil of Mohammad. His son tells a story about a king. Their stories serve as a preview for a special event the following night. As they finish, the bar once again erupts into applause. Hmm, I can get used to this kind of support!
It’s about halfway through, and intermission begins. I catch up with a friend and fellow radio enthusiast Rebekah Nolan and go on a hunt to find the bathroom (which I did). As the next teller after the break begins to talk, I realize what time it is and frown. Unfortunately, I gotta go. Josh and I say our goodbyes (quietly of course, so as not to distract the teller) and make our way to the bus stop in the pouring rain.
“That was fun.” I tell Josh as we got on the bus.
“It was,” he agrees.
“Same time next month?” I ask with a grin.
“You know it,” Josh smiled back.