Snow White and the Visual Map

This month I am performing five shows in a row at the Boulder International Fringe Festival. I have told particular stories over and over, but never in a one week period for five shows. The build up of external and inner pressure has my alarm tugging at my eyelids at 5:30am, when I am just starting to get to the interesting parts of my dreams. I lay there and listen as the stories creep up to the bedside and remind me that while I may have needed sleep, they did not.

So I climb out of bed and move in story. Each story is has a mental visual map and the trick for me is to find the words to tell the listeners what I am seeing. Some stories have natural visuals, I do not need to search too far for words. Yet, there are others that are known so well that I want to find another path with which to show the story.

For the Fringe Festival I have taken on Snow White. Now, every one knows that story. Skin as white as snow, hair as black as ebony, and lips as read as blood.

(Small tangent here – why name her after her skin? “Blood Red” would have been a rocking name and probably a very different story. I suppose it all is commentary on the story and the historical value at the time, but still…)

The work I have chosen to take on as a storyteller is showing the listener that we are going to talk about Snow White, but from a different angle so that the tale is fresh and heads down a different path. In this case, the tale crafted itself to be completely from the perspective of Snow White. Because I made that choice, I had to find ways to complete other parts of the story without directly talking about them.

For example, Snow White never found out what happened to the huntsman. She flees into the forest, stumbles upon the dwarves and the huntsman fades away. So in my story, as the mysterious woman slips a poison comb into Snow White’s hair she whispers, “People lie, child. They lie about who they are, they lie about the size of children’s hearts and they lie about how long they can last when punished.” A bit dark granted, but this is no fairy story. Well, it is – but you know what I mean.

This is why with each story I walk the visual path until the end and then continue to refine words. So, with five shows coming up, I have five times to walk with Snow White, and hopefully together she and I will find our way out of the forest.


Once Upon a Bedtime…

Who is telling your child stories at night?

Is it the books you are reading?

Is it the television that sings them to sleep with jingles about cars to buy, new toys to want, or the next movie they should see?

Often life is so busy that the only time children have attention during the day is when they are being
-directed to do something, “Get your shoes on, time to get in the car and go to school.”
-or being reprimanded, “Stop hitting your brother!”

But those moments before bed, when they are struggling to make the transition between life and the Land of Nod could be the ideal time to have a tender moment or two.

Tell them a story or sing them a song.

If your mind is going blank, or shouting “What story? What songs do I know? ” have no fear. That is going to be the subject of many blogs from here on out. A big discussion of the why, when, what and how of telling stories and singing songs for your children, classroom and community.