Just before the February break, in between all the blizzards, I had the privilege of sharing my Every Hero Has a Story program with Wakefield Elementary and West Kingston Elementary schools in North Kingstown, RI.
Sometimes people ask me, how do you pick which story to tell? And I have to say it’s a combination of instinct, audience, season, and the needs of the organization. My programs are “sets” that can sometimes be thematically linked, but are frequently like an album of hit songs. Each story rocks out, but there’s not a lot of build-up. (Two notable exceptions are my Stories for Peace and Holiday Present programs, which are specifically requested by the booking organization.)
For a while, I’ve been searching for a way to link my stories, to create an arc or a dramatic through-line, that’s not restrictive. In other words — I want the stories to build, but not have to be locked into a particular four stories.
Every Hero Has a Story was designed to do exactly that.
A Prince and a Princess were driving back to the capital, when their vehicle was swept away in a flash flood. Separated from their driver, they find themselves lost and alone and very wet. Not far off, they see a light, and soon find themselves in a warm and dry barn filled with people telling stories around a campfire.
The first story they hear…
It was so much fun! Each story led naturally into the next, with the bridge story of the Princess and the Prince linking them. (In technical terms, the Prince and Princess story is a “frame tale”.) By the end of their evening, the Prince and Princess leave with a collection of stories that they tell their parents and their friends*.
What was lovely and remarkable for me about both performances was the attention that the students and teachers gave the shows. I like to think that my shows are engaging, but these two events took that to a new level. There were no interruptions. There were no disruptions. And in between stories, when I segued back into the barn, you could almost hear the rain pouring on the roof.
Here’s what one principal had to say after the show!
— Kim Mather, Principal, West Kingston, Elementary School
*In the book, Every Hero Has a Story, the royal story is much deeper and longer, culminating in the Princess and Prince telling their own stories before leaving with their parents.