As in all the storytelling/animation projects I’ve done with Awesome Arts, there was the great pleasure in witnessing everyone:

  • recognizing the essential nuggets in their own stories (and the parts that weren’t as important), how to put them together more effectively, how to make them sing — both of the people who ended up recording came with a strong sense of story and seemed to relish the refining process
  • becoming invested in one another’s stories — able to give useful and kind feedback on what was and wasn’t working in each others’ tellings; although Jennifer didn’t end up recording her story, Wilf and Amanda were able to help her see the difference between a speech (which is what she started with) and a story
  • coming together as a group enjoying a joint venture

Amanda and her family are relatively new arrivals in Carp, having emigrated from England a few years ago.  Her family story doesn’t have anything to do with Carp but, as you heard, is funny and very human.  It took a few tries to get a comprehensible explanation of curtain wire, commonplace in England and critical to the plot, worked out.  Amanda’s father-in-law used it to repair the choke in his wife’s car — it came unravelled at an inopportune moment…

Wilf, on the other hand, grew up in Carp and his story about Bert really captured the tone of rural Ontario life in the 50s and 60s and the semi-acknowledged place of a misfit like Bert in the community.  As Wilf himself observed, the edited version is a story about a trick; the longer oral version is a portrait of an individual in his community.  I’m glad the latter will be posted eventually!

In order to turn some of the oral stories into stop motion animation videos, they need to be edited down quite a bit. Tina Le Moine, the follow-up artist that will be transforming the stories into animation, does a marvellous job of that but I realized that the the oral stories and the stories used for the animation are quite different. To honour the two art forms (storytelling and animation) as well as the original story told, we came up with the idea of sharing both on Youtube. The longer version will be shared with no animation, it will be a stand along oral story. The other will be the shorter, edited, animated story. The participants and artists were pleased with this solution.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy projects like this so much and find them so valuable is that people need and want to tell their stories.  When we tell our stories, our connection to one another is affirmed and we recognize what we have in common.  When you’re working with older people, that need for connection, for being heard, for experience being acknowledged and valued becomes even more pressing — although I could say the same about many of the other groups I’ve worked with — immigrants and people young and old who’ve found themselves in stressful, difficult situations.  And then there’s the satisfaction of shaping and telling your experience in a way that others are clearly happy to listen to…  So — definitely worthwhile and a deep pleasure!

– MASC Artist Katherine Grier

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