Monday, October 6, 2008

Metamorphoses: An International Colloquium on Narrative and Folklore

Over thirty scholars, researchers, performing artists, linguists, folklorists, poets, and anthropologists, nationwide and from several countries attended a colloquium at the University of Utah on October 2-4 where they shared their research and perspectives on narratives, fairy tales, and folklore. They explored a variety of expressive arts media as well as "page-to-stage" issues. My proposal was accepted and my presentation appeared in the program in the Performing Arts Panel.
The Proposal:
Metamorphosis: The Evolution of Fairy Tales to Tairy Fales!
Storyteller, Carol Esterreicher, Ed.S.
Member: Utah Storytelling Guild
Member: National Storytelling Network
Renewed interest in storytelling as a performing art in general and fairy tales in particular, prompts us to explore word play strategies that “tickle the tale” in creative ways! The excursion from page to stage engages the storyteller’s creative pursuit of connections with numerous audience types in pursuit of transporting them to magically enchanting times and places. Intentional “metamorphosis” of classic tales using word play releases intuitive creative forces that reside deep within the storyteller still unknown, or just “below the surface” persistently urging expression.
On the page, we apply differing word play strategies to the same tale depending on the potential audiences’ ages and interests and the responses expected. Most people have heard “spoonerisms” and will happily recall those they have enjoyed in the past. Other less familiar inventions such as substitutions and lipograms, (exclusions) render surprising and delightful linguistic delicacies.
On the stage, we prepare and predispose audiences to accept the premise, “because this story is already present in your memory, you will find this adapted and metamorphosed version surprisingly easy to understand and enjoy.” Pace your presentation. Be prepared to “step outside your story” to comment and bring the audience’s understanding and appreciation up to speed. Storytelling with a live audience invites a give-and-take connection that is one of storytelling’s most enticing sources of fulfillment for artist and audience alike.
Children giggle at the surprising sounds of the words. Following a story concert, they have been overheard repeating favorites including “Mairy Fodgother,” and “Beeping Sleauty.” Adults reminisce about word plays heard over generations since the 1940’s when radio personality, Frederick Chase Taylor (1897-1950), as Col. Stoopnagle, had his listeners chuckling over the linguistic improbabilities of “spoonerisms.” Spoonerisms’ namesake is the Reverend W.A. Spooner (1844-1930) whose peculiar speech impediment, included reversing and rearranging sounds and syllables.

Bettelheim, Bruno. (1976). The Uses of Enchantment—The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc
Espy, Willard R. (1986). Words To Rhyme With (including a Primer of Prosody). New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Esterreicher, Carol. (1995). SCAMPER Strategies—FUNdamental Activities for Narrative Development. Thinking Publications. Eau Claire: Wisconsin. Available through
Esterreicher, Carol (2007). “Why Word Play?” on-line article
Farb, Peter. (1973). Word Play –What Happens When People Talk. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
James, Keen (2000). Stoopnagle’s Tale is Twisted.—Spoonerisms Run Amok. Sherman Oaks, CA: Stone and Scott Publishers
LeBoeuf, Michael. (1980). Imagineering. Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc..
Osborn, Alex. (1953). Applied Imagination. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.