Wednesday May 10th, 2017
Open to the public!
Morning session: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Afternoon session: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Place: CDC Vimont cafeteria
Information: Call Karen at 450-688-2933 ext. 3126
For over 25 years, accompanied by his penny whistle, storyteller Norman Perrin has been telling stories around southern Ontario, across Canada and around the world: Scotland, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The Story Fire is Kindled
In the spring of 1982 I attended my first storytelling event ever, the third annual festival of storytelling in Toronto, “Renewal of the Sacred Fire” my first storyteller, Jamaica’s“Tim Tim”, aka Paul Keens-Douglas. Tim Tim’s dynamic powerful tales of Jamaican life told with pride and humour opened up the world of the storyteller for me. From that time on, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller but there was a lot to learn.
Over the next few years, as I listened to many storytellers my repertoire grew and I began to compose my own tales, woven from my imagination and and drawing upon my experiences growing up on Black Bay Road in the Ottawa Valley, and working in the orchards and farms of Ontario.
When I tell the Brother Grimm’s “Bremen Town Musicians” a tale of an overworked donkey and animals I can imagine their landscape and know how they felt!
My start as a professional storyteller began in 1987 as Storyteller in residence for Pollution Probe’s Ecology House and Ecology Park in Toronto. It was there that I first began to use music and the penny whistle as part of my storytelling sessions for school groups who came to learn about ecology how to protect the environment. In 1990 a chance encounter at Ecology House with Toronto artist Paul Hogan led to a profound change in the direction of my storytelling path. Paul was the founder of the Spiral Garden*, an outdoor interactive arts program for children undergoing physical rehab at the Hugh MacMillan Centre, now Holland Bloorview Centre. When he heard that I was a storyteller he invited me to the Spiral Garden develop storytelling programs for the children and staff of the Garden. For 6 years I was storyteller for a diverse and challenging group of children who were gardening, painting, wood working, or simply chasing each other under the ancient trees of the Spiral Garden. One highlight was the day a dragonfly with a 12 foot wing span came to the Spiral Garden……..
To encourage creativity and storytelling by the children of the Spiral Garden I developed the Story Stone, a story composing activity for the children and adults of the Spiral Garden.
Participants would choose from a pile of small interesting items; a rusty key, a wooden lion, a nesting doll, place them on a flat stone and with the words “ Once Upon a Time…” they entered the world of story creation with my help and guidance. It was very popular and became a part of the Butterfly Peace Garden of Sri lanka.
When a group of child psychologists, therapists and artists from Sri Lanka came to the Spiral Garden in1995 to study how the Spiral Garden’s methods might help them in the treatment of war affected children, they were excited by what they saw. That year Paul left Toronto and traveled to Batticaloa, Sri Lanka to help found the Butterfly Peace Garden.** Though the BPG is no longer running, for it’s 17 years it helped thousands of children in the war torn region and inspired other programs for children, such as the Mango Tree Garden in Cambodia.***
In 2003 I traveled to the Butterfly Peace Garden to conduct a week of Story Stone workshops for the staff of Butterfly Peace Garden.
In the fall of 2013 the Story Stone and a selection of the story stone objects were packed into a custom made wooden box I started the Rolling Story Stone from Scotland to England, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It was set up in parks, on the street, a Waldorf school, a university campus and people’s kitchens seeding stories along the way. In the fall of 2017 I hope to take the Story Stone once again.
During this time, in addition to telling stories in schools, museums and parksI ra storytelling events such as “Tales of the Green Lady”, which featured traditional stories from the cultures of people who had lived in 19th century Toronto on the grounds of Toronto’s Colborne Lodge inToronto’s High Park, starting with First Nations storyteller Lenore Keeshig-Tobias from Nawash First Nation in the Bruce Peninsula.
The Four Winds Storytellers Library
Like many storytellers I liked to collect books,having a strong interest in the stories of different cultures and countries from around the world. I wanted to share the wealth, so when the collection reached 900+ volumes I opened up the Four Winds Storytellers Library in my apartment for the use of storytellers in Toronto. Since then it has grown to 6000 volumes covering just about every country in the world, including themed sections on Strong Women, Ghosts, Animals and Star Tales and has helped storytellers, authors and researchers from as far away as Bangladesh. It is currently set up in my apartment in Toronto’s Junction district.
I still love to hear and tell stories filled with the rich legacies of past storytellers who have tended the storyfires and kept them burning to the present day.
* Paul Hogan, Founder of Toronto’s Spiral Garden
** A description of The Butterfly Peace Garden by Joanna Santa Barbara