I had an idea of making a list of statistics, let's see, five months, 35 performances, etc., but then I realized that I'd have to explain too much. There's the five-hour workshop on storytelling and puppetry, or the storytelling and joketelling competition I participated in, or the show at the rehab day program, or the teen program that was mostly performance with a few storytelling games, or the sessions at a health fair, or an hour on personal stories at the Goat Milk Festival. Most of these have been great fun. I didn't know if I'd be able to do performances and workshops in Bulgarian. It turns out I can, especially with audience help.
Here are some performance pictures since February:
That was near the beginning, at the Anglo-American School of Sofia, where I performed as part of the Bulgarian Culture Week, in English. I was getting over the flu at that point, so I don't mind that the picture is a bit dark.
Here I'm telling The ghost with the one black eye as part of my lecture on storytelling at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, my sponsoring organization. The audience was made up mostly of scholars and researchers—and one nine-year-old. This was my first presentation in Bulgarian.
Svetla, a friend from last summer's Fulbright International Summer Institute (FISI), asked me to tell stories at a drug and alcohol rehab center (another one in Bulgarian). The center is in a beautiful old house. Did I mention that in Bulgaria, people take their shoes off at the door? Svetla offered booties to wear over my shoes, but I preferred to be sock-footed.
Apart from these performances, I visited the middle and high school classes of somf of the Fulbright Teaching Assistants in Sofia, Plovdiv, Dimitrovgrad and Gabrovo. These sessions were in English, of course. This picture is from a creative writing class in Plovdiv. We also did a little writing.
Another friend FISI, Nadya, invited me to tell at Sofia University. I happily did three performances there, sponsored by the Department of Slavic Philology (though I told in English). The first was Tristan and Iseult, egged on by fellow Fulbrighter Blake Hackler. The second two sessions were Storyteller's Choice, stories I felt like telling at the time. All three were for adults and older kids. Not only were the audiences for each show amazing—and most had never heard a storyteller before—but they were in my old stomping grounds, Sofia University, where I studied in 1983-84. Auditorium 137 is a grand old wood-lined hall, with high ceilings and a fireplace, cold in winter, hot in summer. Kalina, also a friend from FISI, took this picture from the front row. I have no idea what I was laughing at, though it could have been the applause in the neighboring hall, which I incorporated into my story.
This was my last show, on Saturday, for families at the Sofia Literature and Translation House. It was in Bulgarian, except for a little in English. Fantastic listeners! Thanks to Rada Kaneva from the Bulgarian Fulbright Commission for this picture and for bringing her children to the show!
I'm deeply grateful to Tzveta Misheva-Aleksova, who has helped me in many ways since we met in February: encouraging me, translating, correcting my Bulgarian (I'd send her what I meant to say by e-mail and she'd make it right), providing space for the day-long workshop, being a story-buddy, coming to my performances with her husband Emo, also a story lover, and generally being a great friend. She's also an excellent storyteller. I spent a relaxed day last week with Tzveta and her family and they all came to the show on Saturday. The three children, Nikola, Iva and Yana, had heard the stories, so they filled in words when I wasn't certain. It was great to finish my scheduled performances in Bulgaria with such a fun show!
Disclaimer: This is not an official Fulbright Program publication. The views expressed here are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.