In the last edition of my newsletter, I again asked if any storytellers would like to be interviewed. I received a few requests and one of them is James Nelson-Lucas. I was interested in his story and I have great pleasure in introducing to you, James Nelson-Lucas …
Aneeta: James, thank you for contacting me.
James: It’s always a pleasure to be in support of the storytelling community.
Aneeta: On your website, http://www.jamesstorymagic.com, it is stated that you are, amongst other things, a storyteller, an actor, musician … and so much more. All this seems to point to a person who must have had a diverse background. Therefore, please share with us a little about your background – where were you born, where did you grow up, where do you live now and anything you’d like to share with my readers.
James: I was born in the shadow of Disneyland. I used to watch the fireworks from my bedroom window. When I was 10, we moved to North San Diego County. I have been here ever since.
Aneeta: When did your interest in storytelling start?
James: Well, I could say when I was five. My mother hired a magician for my birthday. I was taken. I mean, a grown up getting paid to be on stage. What a good deal. So I asked to learn at his knee. By the time I was six I was getting paid as a magician. What does that have to do with storytelling? Patter! Patter is what the magician says while he performs. In reality, patter is just a series of short stories designed to distract the audience from the slight of hand. Form there I spent years acting, writing, etc. I started calling myself a storyteller about ten years ago when I met my storytelling partner. When she met me she told me I would be a great storyteller. I did not even know it was a job. But I started to go to her gigs. Then I started helping to tell. One thing led to another and I have never looked back.
Aneeta: There is something on your site called The Patchwork Players. What is this and what is your role in it?
James: I told you about my partner, Patti Christensen is her name. We have been telling stories together my entire storytelling career. We are a troupe of two. We perform in a style called Story Theatre. It is very active and interactive. Kind of a cross between acting and telling. Something like the theatre that may have been seen in the streets during Shakespeare’s time. Not that we tell Shakespeare, but we do tell in that style. In addition, we both tell solo in a more traditional style. Both are very rewarding ways to tell.
Aneeta: What kind of audience do you cater for and what kind of stories do you tell?
James: I love all audiences: kids, adults, seniors. I think my favourite is a family audience. That way, I can layer my performance with something for everyone. I love to tell a tale that is accessible to kids, but speaks to adults as well. I am influenced by the old Warner Brothers cartoons. Wackyness and fun for the kids, but with jokes and references aimed at the older folks. My favourite type of story is the folktale. Not only are they fun, but the have morals and lessons. They are also great cultural transmitters. It allows people to learn more about their own culture and to learn about the cultures of others.
Aneeta: As you know, this website caters for storytellers. My question, therefore, is what advice would you give to those who would like to start telling stories?
James: We are all natural storytellers. Every day we share our experiences in story form. So you already have it in you. Don’t sweat the details. Few tellers tell by rote. Most of us tell by the bones. If someone asked you to tell the Three Little Pigs, would you run for the book? NO. You know the story, so you tell it. It is the same way with longer and more complicated tales. Learn the bones. What happens to who, where and when; beginning, middle and end. From there you can “tell” the story. Then tell, tell and tell some more. In time, you will find your voice, the stories will come to you with greater ease. And remember to call yourself a storyteller. Give yourself the props and the skills will follow.
Aneeta: James, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
James: Support the the storytelling world. Go to festivals. Buy tellers’ CD’s and books. Join your local guild. Convince your PTA, Library or Community Theatre to present tellers. Share the world of telling with friends, loved ones and strangers who will listen. In short, be active in the community.
Aneeta: James, thank you.
James: Thank you for working to spread the word.
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