Opening this season's storytelling series.
Internationally-renowned storyteller Stephanie Bénéteau of Montreal will open 2 women productions’ story-telling series at Burnstown’s Neat Café. She presents The Wind and the Moon: Tales of Power and Passion on Thursday, Nov. 1.
Barney McCaffrey, Joan Finnigan and Mary Cook are just three examples of the rich storytelling tradition that has lived on in the Ottawa Valley.
Performances that honour that tradition comes to Renfrew County with three visits to Burnstown’s Neat Café by 2 women productions.
The company is run by Taylor Lake (Lanark County) residents Jennifer Cayley and Jan Andrews, who kick off the series Thursday, Nov. 1 with internationally-renowned storyteller Stephanie Bénéteau of Montreal.
The second stop is Feb. 9, when Jan Gregory, also of Montreal, presents Ask No Questions: Family Secrets.
The third stop is April 20 with Cayley and Andrews on stage, along with Ottawa’s Gail Anglin and Ellis Lynn Deschenes, to present Homer’s Odyssey.
Cayley and Andrews, both storytellers for 20 years or more, call Neat Café a wonderful venue that is found where they like it to be found, in an area where artists regularly perform.
It’s only been the last few hundred years that the impact of storytelling took a smaller role in society, with the advent of the printing press, computers and the Internet.
But that’s no reason to shelve the rich tradition of storytelling, says Cayley.
“Telling stories was the way people told things. It was just how they shared things, sharing their history, their morality … and the Ottawa Valley has an extremely rich heritage in that regard.
“But fewer and fewer people are sitting down to tell their stories, and fewer and fewer are sitting down to listen to them.”
Hence, 2 women productions is now entering its third full season. The 2012-13 campaign brings 2 women productions to Neat Café for the first time, and return visits to Perth, Wakefield and Peterborough.
Andrews and Cayley — who have also performed in Australia, Great Britain and the United States — say that many people recognize storytelling as an entertainment for children. But they say they have experienced over and over again how a well-told and compelling story moves and delights an adult audience.
“When the story is a good one and the teller skilled and passionate,” says Cayley, “the hard wiring we all have for narrative brings the listener an experience that will not soon be forgotten.”
Bénéteau’s Nov. 1 show, which Cayley and Andrews will also attend, is an interweaving of sensual, subtle and witty stories from across the world. The stories takes the audience on a journey with an intriguing assortment of heroes and heroines.
The Montreal storyteller’s diverse sources include The Arabian Nights and traditional stories from the Chinese and First Nations, as she explores how the struggles between men and women must be overcome if love is to become a transformational experience.
“The stories are erotic, rather than erotica,” says Bénéteau. “I am drawn to the material for its grace, playfulness and poetry.”
Advance tickets for the three 7:30 p.m. performances in Burnstown are available from www.ticketsplease.ca for $18, or $20 at the door.
Bénéteau’s show also takes place Nov. 2 in Wakefield, Nov. 3 at Perth’s Full Circle Theatre and Nov. 4 in Peterborough.