Flounder on the Road

by Loren Niemi – May 12, 2022

We just finished twelve days on the road clocking in 3,567 miles to share four performances including three (High School, New Voices, Liar’s Contest) at the Stone Soup Storytelling Festival in Woodruff, SC and an on-line performance for the Northlands Storytelling Network’s 2022 Fringe Festival. In between and around those stories were meals, museums, and visits with friends in Richmond, VA, Brooklyn/ Manhattan, NY, Montclair/ Maplewood, NJ and Peoria, IL. 

It was a nod to the “used to be” of my years of spring tours and a reminder of what I do love about America. Even from the freeways/ tollways/ expressways, billboards and announcements of local attractions invite you to stop and look. Who wouldn’t want to wonder about Noah’s Ark Storage or Uncle Ali Baba’s House of Prime Rib? In another time I might have added stops there and back for house concerts or small storytelling workshops though for this road trip it was a hard two days driving 500 plus miles to get to South Carolina and similar long drives amid bumper to bumper traffic and road construction from Richmond to Brooklyn and Pennsylvania to Indianapolis. Even with the price of gas being what it is, it was good to see spring green.

What else was a nod to the past and hopefully the future was performing before a live audience. I am the first to admit that I do my best storytelling when the audience is in the room and I can hear them breathing. In that moment: what does this audience require? More or less description? Faster or slower delivery? Can I slide in a joke or a poetic image while we round this story’s corner? The telling is a relationship acted out in the present.

On Saturday at Stone Soup, I told “Burning Down the Barn” in the morning New Voices section and “Memphis BBQ” in the afternoon Liar’s Contest. That one got me a third place win and $50. Winning aside, it was/ is a joy all the more appreciated after the pandemic hiatus to see and hear an audience appreciate the story.

One of the models of how the American School of Storytelling might work is to do extended tours with day-long or weekend workshops and a performance over the course of a month or two. We’d like to partner with art centers, libraries, churches, and colleges who would take on the local promotion, registration, providing the space and hosting while the American School provided marketing content, course material and the performance. 

And for the performance, we’re thinking not just Loren Niemi but other regional or national tellers who are also American School of Storytelling instructors. We could work at flat rates or split the proceeds as need be. If you’re interested in talking about such an experience, drop us a line at americanschoolofstorytelling@gmail.com and let’s look at calendars for September of this year or pretty much any of 2023.

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