Mailbox Invitations

"I'll Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse" photo by lepiaf.geo

I know that I am overdue in writing a Mailbox post about the many, many interesting theatre-related things going on around Indianapolis right now but tonight I would just like to share my bliss (and okay, yes, brag a bit) about a handful of unexpected invitations that have come my way recently.

Guest Speaker at a Storytelling Class

This afternoon I was the guest speaker for an undergraduate Winter Term storytelling class at Franklin College.  Each of the 18 students had come prepared with two questions to ask The Professional Storyteller about how to tell folk tales.  Most were education majors, but there were also a few theatre, English, and psychology majors.

I had met with the two instructors – one a professional storyteller herself, the other an English professor – ahead of time.  They had some topics they hoped I would cover, but they also said it would be okay for me to let the students’ questions prompt the stories I told and the advice I gave.

The students were wonderful. 

At one point I found myself quoting Heather Forest, who often advises beginning tellers to “Plan on being a storyteller for at least 25 years.  Don’t expect to learn all the stories and all the techniques and so on in your first year.”

“Good heavens!” I thought to myself.  “I have been working as a storyteller for 25 years now!  How can that be?  I still have so much to learn!”

But I also realized as I talked with this student audience today, that I have come a long way since I took my first storytelling class as part of my work for my Master of Library Science degree in 1985.  For one thing, I could go in to the classroom today trusting that the right stories from my repertory would be there for me.  And they were!

I don’t know for sure what the students thought of our two hours together.  They listened intently, tried what I asked them to try, and seemed to be having a good time.  For me, though, it was definitely an empowering experience.  I am grateful for each of my storytelling mentors and experiences from the past 25 years, including today’s.

Reviewer for Storytelling, Self, and Society

Last week I accepted an invitation from Storytelling, Self, Society: an Interdisciplinary Journal of Storytelling Studies to write a review of storyteller Bill Harley’s work.  I will therefore be at both of his performances here in Indianapolis this weekend at the Indiana History Center.  (One is for families, the other for adults.  For more info about either, please go to www.storytellingarts.org.) 

It will be a different kind of essay than what I write for Indy Theatre Habit – and harder for me to write because I haven’t done any kind of academic writing in a long time – but I am looking forward to it.  My review is scheduled to be published in the Summer 2010 edition of Storytelling, Self, Society.

Other Invitations

I have received several other intriguing invitations in the past year or so. 

  • I was asked to be part of a panel at the 2010 National Storytelling Network conference in Los Angeles that would discuss issues related to reviewing oral tradition storytelling.  I would have LOVED to accept that invitation, but I would have had to pay my own way out there, and I just couldn’t swing it.
  • During the 2009 IndyFringe festival, someone from Nuvo reached out to me to ask if I had seen the one show they had missed, and if so, would I be willing to write a review for them.  I had not seen that show either, so I didn’t have to weigh the pro’s (a byline in Nuvo and a gazillion more readers than I have now!) and the con’s (having to pare down to 50 words and mess with stars) of accepting that invitation.  I could just be, and was, hugely flattered to have been asked.
  • I was approached in 2009 by a handful of ticket re-sellers and other companies that wanted to advertise here on my blog.  I said no to them because if I am going to allow the clutter of ads on my blog, there had better be a very big profit in it for me, and there wouldn’t have been.  Still, I was tickled to have been approached.

This morning I was asked to be a “plant” for the open microphone portion of the “Jabberwocky” program co-sponsored by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and Indy Fringe on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.  The main “tellers” will be Lou Harry of the IBJ, Shari Finnell of Indianapolis Woman, Dennis Ryerson of the Indianapolis Star and David Zivan of Indianapolis Monthly.  They will share stories of writer’s block and how they dealt with it.  After they “jabber” about their experiences, there will be a chance for anyone else who wants to share a story of struggling with writer’s block.

Maybe I am not supposed to tell you that I will be a plant, but I had this event on my calendar anyway because I am always up for hearing professional journalists talk about their work, and because of my own recent struggle.  Being a plant in this case just means that I am willing to get up and tell a 3-5 minute story about writer’s block if no one else wants to go first.  Either way, I think it will be a fun and informative evening.

By the way, doors open for “Jabberwocky” at the Indy Fringe Building at 5:30pm.  The program itself starts at 6pm.  Admission is $10.  There will be “hearty soups, bread, and drinks” for additional charges.

********** 

I have a couple of other intriguing invitations in my mailbox right now, but since I haven’t answered them yet, I will keep mum about them except to say that whether things work out or not for me to accept them, I am glad to have been asked.

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

Follow @IndyTheatre on Twitter.com for night-of-show observations and impressions.

5 thoughts on “Mailbox Invitations”

  1. Hi Hope,

    I wonder if you would be interested in reading this: http://www.adfreeblog.org/faq.htm

    I feel that what you and I do is a form of expression that has the ability to transcend corporate America. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of control on the blog I write for.

    P.S. The woman who published that site also does a photo/art blog called My Milk Toof. Her work is wonderfully human (though her subjects are not). Enjoy: http://mymilktoof.blogspot.com/

  2. Thanks very much for the comments and links, Katelyn! (The comment had to be approved by hand because of the links – sorry for the delay.)

    This is a complicated issue.

    Who will pay my bills if I transcend corporate America? The only reason I can be even a semi-independent blogger is because corporations and individuals indirectly pay for it through my salary at my day job. That salary directly pays for my blog’s web hosting, my Internet access, my home computer, my home office, my transportation to theatres, etc.

    I am actually not opposed to having ads on Indy Theatre Habit. I just know that once I step down that road, I will be creating a lot more work for myself. Accepting money means signing contracts and keeping records and paying taxes, for one thing. It also means dealing with a whole new set of expectations from other people.

    I am not afraid of that, but if and when I do step down that road, I want to be in charge of the journey and have a carefully-drawn road map. Ideally, some day I will feel ready to go after the advertisers I want to support this blog, rather than waiting for them to come to me.

    For example, I would like all of my advertisers to be companies whose products and services appeal to me (e.g. – yummy restaurants rather than shaming diet aids) and who have stores and/or offices in the Indianapolis area (e.g. – a local art gallery or an office supply chain with an Indianapolis store, but not a ticket-scalper whose operations are based who knows where and whose only contact point is an email address.)

    Keeping track of all those relationships and collecting all of those ads and payments would be a full-time job, which means I would have to interview, hire, and continually evaluate some kind of business manager, which means more record-keeping, communicating, negotiating, and decision-making.

    And to get the best advertisers, Indy Theatre Habit would need to cover more shows, and expand its readership. Which means hiring, training, mentoring, and evaluating more writers. Plus hiring and evaluating computer gurus to teach us all about search engine optimization and continually improve the design of the website and so on. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire a social networking manager, too.

    Which means more record-keeping. More communicating. More work.

    I can do all of that – and there is a side of me that gets excited about being Indy Theatre Habit’s CEO or emperor or whatever – but I already work hard as a middle manager at my day job, and it already pays me enough to run this blog as a hobby, AND my social life is arid enough as it is.

    So…mostly when I start to think about doing all of that, I remember that what I MOST want to do is go to shows and write about them in my own way.

    And that’s when I say no to advertising. At least for now.

  3. P.S. – I couldn’t put that woman’s little “no ads” owl symbol on my blog anyway, because I do accept media passes. This is clearly (I hope!) stated on my “About the Blog” page.

    I do not write promotional pieces (I think you told me one time that that is what your employer pays you to do?) but theatres who offer me media passes, photos, and press releases on a regular basis do have an advantage with me over theatres that do not.

  4. P2S2 – I hope the above does not sound harsh! I very much appreciate your comments, Katelyn, and your readership! And being colleagues (is that the word?) with you in the online theatre writing world.

  5. Okay, I just have to also say that that woman is willing to blog for free because it helps to promote her other art, which she does NOT give away for free. Her blog is one big ad for her merchandise!

    Just because many artists (including writers) do their work for free out of love and/or as a means to another end does not mean that artists (including writers) should never be financially supported for their work. Ads, maybe, allow some people to do their work.

    On the other hand, I avoid websites that are so cluttered with ads that it is too much trouble to dig through the clutter to get to the “meat.”

    Agggh! I don’t think I have been clear at all here, but I need to get back to work on my review of “The Foreinger” at Beef and Boards.

    Thanks again for your comment, Katelyn!

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