This Tuesday, local storytellers give New Mexico legislators an earful...of stories that is. By saying and doing, Storytellers at the Roundhouse emphasizes the importance of state funding for the arts.Since the 1990s, storytellers from around the state have casually gathered to swap stories, but it wasn't until 10 years ago that Storytellers of New Mexico became official through its affiliation with the National Storytelling Network.
As "professional storytellers," the group's members make at least part of their living by telling stories. The Storytellers of New Mexico believes that everyone has a story to tell. They just happen to be a little better at it than most people.
"We try to be role models and inspire people to tell their own stories. It’s important that we remember to communicate with one another," professional storyteller Margaret Edmundson tells SFR.
The group chose the state capitol building as a venue to encourage communication among the public and legislators alike. In addition, Sen. Peter Wirth-D of Santa Fe sponsored the event. The goal is to generate support for publicly funded art programs.
"It's an issue of raising awareness," Edmundson says. "There are a lot of programs that are done during the legislative sessions to make legislators aware of different organizations throughout the state."
The stories told cover a vast range of styles and storytelling traditions. There are folktales, historical accounts and memoirs. One storyteller specializes in ballads and sea shanties. Another storyteller uses masks in her stories.
According to Edmundson, the style and content of the stories depends largely on the audience.
"We hope we’ll have legislators, but we also know we’ll have some school children there. We may have a bit of a mixed crowd. If they turn out to be all legislators, then hopefully the storyteller will adjust the stories to a more adult audience. Each time you tell a story, it’s a new experience," she says.
This is particularly true for Edmundson, who never writes any of her stories down. She says that most storytellers prefer not to use a script, but rather to just let the stories flow.
As she puts it, "Stories are all around us. Everybody loves storytelling. It’s in every form of life we can think about because it’s natural to us."
Edmundson goes on to describe storytelling as one of the first art forms people participated in.
If the Storytellers of New Mexico have anything to say about, hopefully it won't be one of the last.
Storytellers at the Roundhouse
Tuesday, Feb. 15
The Rotunda of the Roundhouse
490 Santa Fe Trail