One of the more unique qualities I bring to the field of children's librarianship is an extensive background in the performing arts. First onstage at the tender age of four, I later earned my Associate of Arts degree in theatre arts performance, and have at one time or another, worked or played with a variety of theatrical media. Though I have performed in many different venues, I have always taken a special pleasure in theatre for children and with children.
During the time in which I was actively performing, I had the privilege of touring two shows specifically produced for school-age children: A Midsummer Night's Dream and Oz, a wonderful adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.
As Dot in the regional tour of OzI had the opportunity to direct a youth drama team for several years, and traveled with them each summer as they performed in Vacation Bible School. Once on the road, I also taught music class and directed the children on-site in a final Family Night program every year.
Youth teams performing during Amazon Outfitters and Great Kingdom Caper
. I directed, but also puppeteered as the need arose.
I designed the sets and built them with the help of several volunteers.Directing the Family Night performances/rehearsals
Puppets have been a part of my life since I was very small. In college, I traveled with a performing puppet team -- I particularly enjoyed doing street puppetry in New York City. Later, I was privileged to direct a local youth puppet team; during my time as director, the team was able to begin traveling to different venues to perform. I have also used puppets in day care and church programs as storytellers, and incorporate them into most of the theatre I direct for children.
Youth puppet team in a rare moment above the curtain
Possibly my greatest love within the performing arts is the role of the storyteller. I have literally been reading or telling stories to others since kindergarten... even if I had to hold my baby brother captive to do it. By middle school, I was a competitive poetry interpreter.
An auspicious beginning for any children's librarian...Recently, this particular pastime has found a new outlet in the online virtual world of Second Life. I was hired to perform weekly as a storyteller on the Tiatopia sim for several months, using Second Life's voice feature and a headset.
Preparing to begin Story Hour The storyteller and several of her guests (Image ©Brooke Metaluna)
Among other venues, I was honored to be invited to open the Toys for Tots Fundraiser Storytelling Marathon in Avilion.
Opening the Toys for Tots Fundraiser with "The Littlest Angel." The giant book behind the storyteller's chair was designed and built by me using the building tools inworld and Paint Shop Pro X2Opening the storytellers' marathon. The Second Life currency is exchangeable for U.S. dollars, making SL
a popular venue for charity organizations like Relay for Life and Toys for Tots.
The librarian, both in school and in the public setting, is without question, a storyteller. The Ohio Academic Content Standards under Literacy and Reading Support, Benchmark C states that librarians must "Tell stories utilizing the full range of storytelling methodologies (e.g., oral, draw and tell, props, voices, song, acting, characters, audience participation, puppetry, readers theatre)." After my Master's degree is completed, my next goal is to join both the National Storytelling Network and the appropriate regional or state association to continue developing myself in this captivating art.
©2010 Ryn Lewis