Friday, 8 June 2012

Odyssey: Seeing the Words

This is a guest post by Ottawa storyteller Kim Kilpatrick.  To read more of Kim's adventures at her blog, Great Things About Being Blind.

Kim and Tulia
When I jumped at the chance to be one of the Storytellers bringing Homer's Odyssey to life, I had not ever even read the whole Odyssey.  I knew some of the famous bits of course.  But not the whole story.

I set out to find the version we were using in audio or electronic format as I am totally blind and could not read the print version.  I found several versions.  Some in poem format, some abridged, some with boring readers, some for kids, and a few that I read right through.  The story seemed interesting and I became more excited.  I could do this. 

I've been a professional storyteller for over 10 years.  I have a good memory.  I love all material.  But when I started to learn it, I could not remember it at all.  The beautiful language did not stay in me.  The words seemed lifeless. 

Beautiful yes, but lifeless, too. 

Why? After some work, we came up with a few reasons.  First, I could not picture the story in my imagination.  I have not seen ancient greece.  What were the palaces like? What did they wear? Who were the gods? What did they do? How do you yoke mules to a wagon? I realized then how much I put myself into the stories I tell.  Moving through them myself as the words fly to my audience. 

I could not do this.  I was trying to cram words into my head and not put the story into myself and live it with all of me.  So I started reading about the greek gods.  Asking questions of our artistic directors and kind storytelling friends.  What clothes did they wear? How big are mules? What would the palaces be like?

I asked and asked until the pictures and the people became clearer in my mind.  It was only then that the beautiful language flowed easily and came to life for me.  And now as I tell my part of the wonderful story, I am there and the words come naturally. 

What a rich tapestry we wove in our rehearsals.  Each voice different but always moving the wonderful story forward.  Come and experience this with us.  You will be amazed, amused, astounded, astonished. 

I raise my mug of tea to brilliant blind homer.  Hopefully blind Kim (smile)  will be brilliant too on June 16.  Come and find out!

Help bring Odysseus home.