FOLKLORE AND CULTURE - 03/03/06
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"
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."