Once again the children chuckled, the adults exalted, and the storytellers cast their magical spell of humor, wisdom, wit and culture upon the ears of their listeners. This year, even with the recession dampening much of the U.S. economy, Eth-Noh-Tec re-calibrated so that our production of the festival, though operating on a shoe-string budget, was still a top-notch cultural experience, both for the guests artists and the local community on Orcas Island.

Welcome Potluck Luncheon

The week started off with a welcome potluck luncheon up on a mountainside forest with several tables full of fresh vegetables, colorful salads, casseroles and desserts (which practically disappeared the instant they hit the table. The storytellers and locals chewed and chatted in the warmth of the Orcas summer (which finally made an appearance that week). The culminating event soiree was a sampler of each of the visiting artists oratorical performance. Doug Banner offered a tale from Scotland of a naughty lass who got her comeuppance. Judith Black shared a personal home coming story about her son, a Marine who survived the onslaught of Falujah, in Iraq. Arif Choudhury gave a slice of life through voice of his childhood, growing up as the only brown-skinned Bangladeshi, Muslim American in the Northshore suburb outside of Chicago. Also Eth-Noh-Tec shared a Hmong Cambodian tale, “Trouble Talk” underscoring a message of humanity’s impact on the environment.

Through the generosity of neighbors and friends, restaurants and small businesses and contribution from the Orcas Library the storytellers experienced Orcas life, as they waived their standard professional fees to gift the islanders with five storytelling programs.

Other Muses Admidst the Myths and Memoirs

This year, Eth-Noh-Tec introduced several other muses into the festival: poetry and music.

The opening public concert at the Senior Center, “Wisdom, Wit and Wily Ways” was launched by the singing group, “the Songbirds.” Such notable and nostalgic songs were both timeless and appropos for the event: “Today,” “Play a Simple Melody,” “Shenandoah,” “Accentuate the Positive.” During the summer, Eth-Noh-Tec enjoys singing with them in their weekly class lead by Eleanor Petersen accompanied by the piano genius of Mary Meyers.

A frightful and delightful mood played on piano haunted the “Ghost Story” night as local musician and composer, Lennon Aldort created dark and foreboding sound-scapes to imbue the evening atmosphere of the supernatural.

Anji Ringzin, with whom Eth-Noh-Tec shared the stage with at last year’s traveling Smithsonian event, “Journey’s That Shape Our Lives” brought to life the stories, anecdotes and poetry of ancient poet philosophers Rumi and Kabir from West and South Asia. Ms. Ringzin’s lyrical and eloquent voice embellished the evening with an almost musical quality to the final concert’s theme of “World Stories.”

A cameo appearance of local storyteller, Antoinette Botsford charmed the young ears during the library concert for families, “Pajama Tales.” Antoinette is a well-known, local teller, well versed in traditional tales spun from her cultural heritage of Canadian-Metis (First Nation).

Stories Make the World Go Round

The culminating concert, “World of Stories” gave a spin of global yarns from family life to folk tale fantasy, from insights into mother-daughter relationships to foibles of a foolish kings. Presented at the Odd Fellows Hall, amidst the constellation of decorative lights and colorful drapery, the storytellers took the audience on journey to the heart. Sometimes the stories told were met with bolts of laughter, other times tears and sighs of endearment. These responses affirmed to the artists that they not only did their job with mastery but also reaffirmed the power of story and compassionate listening.

Eth-Noh-Tec lead the final story, a signature piece “Bird of Happiness” from Tibet with the message of hope and happiness. After the bow of Robert and Nancy, and upon the invitation for all the storytellers to join them in a final bow, the audience leapt to a standing ovation.

We, of course, wish to leap to a standing ovation for all the individuals, organizations, and business that, because of their support through donations, goods, and services made this festival a huge success. We look forward to their participation for years to come.

Big thank to the many volunteers: Sharon Abreu, Lennon Aldort, Robert Austin, Margie Doyle Nita Couchman, Virginia Erhardt, & Judy Dorman, Franke, Marj & Fred, Betsy Greason, Phil Heikinnen, Michael Hurwitz, Anita Holladay, Jan & Bill Madill, Miri Plowman & Gil Becerra, Mary Ann & Chuck Owen, Eric Morris, George Post, John & Charlotte Sumrall, Dr. Dave Shinstrom, Ginni Stern, Linda Thretheway.

If you live on Orcas or are simply visiting, be sure to support the local business you see listed here: The Sounder, La Campesina Project, Black Dog Farms, Blue Moon Paradise, Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, Bullwings, Chimayo, Eclipse Charters, Enzos Café, Funhouse, Home Grown, Island Market, Lambiel Museum, Luna Pasta Rustica, Olga Café.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. oh, wonderful wonderful. I will be there again one day. For now, am freer to attend your gigs in your attic in the city. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a verbal storyteller one day myself! Carol Wright, formerly of Orcas.

    1. Both are wonderful!  So hope to see you at both some time in the future!!  And of course Orcas is gorgeous!  But SF has great food!

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