Attending the past two parts of the Summer Series was a blast. I look forward to capping it off with the finale, and making a hat trick out of my storytelling event summer adventures. This third act is featuring Bev Kane and Jim Payne, telling Newfoundland stories with a shot of Irish flavor. This time it’s only me, I’m not dragging anyone along.
I finally get to the Benevolent Irish Society building after going to the wrong address. I am then greeted by Kailey, and I help them set up the banner. As set up finishes, I plop down at the table by the door, taking the admission of people who come in. The venue is spacious; the chairs are laid out in a semi-circle, and the banner is behind the microphone stand. I notice that there is a bar here too. The audience find seats, making small talk with others around them. That feeling of being comfortable and welcomed fills the room like air in a balloon. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s one of my favorite things about storytelling events and something that deserves more recognition.
Kailey goes to the mic to introduce the tellers. I fix my glasses on my face and take out my journal, I’m ready to listen and take notes. Without missing a beat, as soon as Kailey starts talking, a respectful and attentive silence encases the audience.
Jim Payne is the first to speak, and he begins to tell a tale about a fellow named Dickie, who’s very short. “… by and by the once,” he says, earning a chuckle from the audience. I notice that in this story, there’s a lot of repetition of sentences. My brain switches into folklore mode as I analyze and identify the elements of this folktale. Jim breaks into song mid-story, and the audience stomps their feet to the tune. His next piece is a recitation that was written by Len Snow, about Summer in Newfoundland. “The car will stir up clouds of dust,” Jim recites, and once he finishes the recitations, and everyone in the room gives a round of applause.
Bev Kane is next, she introduces her stories with a little bit of background info, highlighting her trips around the Southern Shore to visit her in-laws. Her first tale is a Jack story called “Hard Arse.” I open my listening ears as much as I can, as Jack Tales are one of my favorite kinds of folk tales. “Every story has a Jack,” she says, continuing to talk about the magic boat and the crew Jack gathers on his journey. Bev engages the audience, and I watch in awe. When I start telling stories, having audience participation is an aspiration of mine. I smile and a feeling of admiration and awe bubbles in my belly. “Will you give me a birth, for God sakes,” the audience responds exactly on queue. Her story is earning lots of laughter from the audience. I decide that Hard Arse is one of my favorite stories I’ve heard so far. Her next story is about a house party, and she finishes that bit with a song. “About six in the morning… stole her hard wine,” she sings. After the song is finished, the audience claps and cheers. Once Bev steps away from the mic, Kailey announces that a short intermission is happening. I say seated, adding a couple of new story ideas I have on to a page in my journal.
“I’m full of useless information,” Jim says, returning to the stage, and the audience responds with laughter. Jim delivers a fabulous Irish recitation. I notice again that there are repeated lines that drive home the humour. “Who’s the five did you say?” he says for the third time, and a chuckle arises from the crowd. He nods to Bev and sings a song called “Ballad of Nelly Purchase.” It is about a woman whose husband was killed at Beaumont Hammel during World War II, and has not come out of her attic since. The song is haunting, even more so when the audience croons along with Jim during the chorus. When it ends, the crowd claps respectfully.
Bev takes the stage again with stories from her experiences on the taxi that goes from the Southern Shore to St. John’s. “You’re in labor? No, I split my head open,” she says explaining that she slipped and fell one day while pregnant, and her husband was worried sick that her water would break so he sent her to the hospital on a taxi. She then sings a song about a woman who went to St. John’s on a taxi and stayed in a boarding house, never going back to the bay. Once again, the crowd erupts with applause.
Jim closed out the event by singing a song and playing his accordion. Applause roars from the audience again. The frequent cheers add to the supportive and encouraging atmosphere of storytelling events. I believe it’s an important staple in the storytelling event recipe.
As the evening winds to a close and the crowd mulls out of the building, I help Rebekah and Kailey put the banner away. Once it’s done, I get a ride home from Rebekah.
“Thanks,” I say, getting out of the van.
“You’re welcome, will I see you Tuesday?” she asks with a smile.
“Of course, see ya at The Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club then,” I reply, a huge grin on my face. I unlock my door, and I’m itching to tell my roommate about the awesome night of stories he missed out on!