News Release

Storyteller Cathy Mosley, president of Nature in Legend and Story, led an interactive workshop and storytelling presentation in the Ozinga Chapel Grand Lobby Tuesday, February 7. The event, sponsored by the cultural affairs committee, showed that a culture's stories rebuild the past and shape the future. 

"We wanted students to learn from a professional whose passion intersects with classes in oral interpretation, theatre, and intercultural communication," said Sherry Barnes, chair of the cultural affairs committee and associate professor of communication arts. "It is one thing to tell students that culture is learned and is passed from generation to generation, (but) that concept is more thoroughly understood when students (are) caught up in stories that weave moral lessons with fantasy and action; reveal social status through kings and fishermen; and bring cultural traditions to life."

In the afternoon, Mosley divided the audience into small groups to share their re-creations of an Irish folktale, "Michael and the Friendly Leprechaun." Students received tips on effective telling, such as keeping the audience focused on facial expressions, the importance of making continual eye contact, and the use of vivid language. When Mosley performed her storytelling in the Van Namen Recital Hall later that evening, she wove Irish history, politics, and religion into the tales she told for what she called the "cottage-style" of telling. 

Students with Irish roots connected with the stories, recognizing ones that had been passed down by family members. Those who heard for the first time about the "Selkie seal people" and the "fairfolk" found the supernatural myths and legends intriguing and surprising. Some audience members commented that the tales revealed Irish values and beliefs, such as the need to pay one's debts, keep one's word, and repay one good deed with another. Many noted that actors may be the present-day storytellers.  

"It is helpful for students in the oral interpretation classes and theatre program to get a sense of where we (theatre performers) came from," said John Sebestyen, assistant professor of communication arts. "Theatre stems from storytelling. The oral tradition led to competitions between storytellers, and then they began dramatizing the stories." 

back to news & events