Thomas Doty – Storyteller

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Where Stories are Celebrated

I have been blessed with visiting places where stories have been celebrated for centuries. And here are photos and drawings of two of these in Oregon. At both sites, there is a stone bench near the rock writings where a storyteller sits and shares stories. There's room around each bench where folks sit and listen, and each site has the acoustics of a natural stone amphitheater. I've sat on the benches a few times over the past three decades and spun stories. As they worked their magic, I felt that I was part of something both ancient and currently vibrant. Here's some words I wrote years ago that describe the energy and presence of these sacred places for stories....

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In Oregon, there are places where the voices of Mother Landscape have been heard and her stories painted and carved on cliffs. A few of these pictures show the storyteller as she abandons her role as narrator to join her story as a dramatic participant. In firelight, in the depths of a winter evening, characters come alive and speak directly to each other and to those in the audience. This is the most ancient spark of performance.

The storyteller's words sizzle with depth. Layers of truth emerge as her story swells beyond sound to include a visual canvas of gestures and movements. Like the story itself, shadows cast on walls by firelight loom larger than the event. What is real transcends itself into what is possible. Not only is the storyteller transformed, so are her listeners.

In the pictures they are often portrayed as myth characters. Perhaps those who were most deeply touched by the stories were the artists who were inspired to create the pictures. If one looks long enough at the images, it isn't hard to imagine that there is a time in each story when listeners become so engaged in the narrative that they leap up and join in a telling that soon becomes a dance drama.

When we visit the cliffs and view these pictures we are reminded to remember.


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