Passing the Torch

Jan 19, 2013 | 1 comment

Shoalwater Storytellers Poster 1981JPGToday is one of those days that I’ve dreamed of but never thought would happen.  At ten o’clock this morning Nyel and I take the first step toward passing “Shoalwater Storytellers” on to a new generation of performers.  It’s bound to be an involved and bittersweet experience, but one we are eager to begin.

“Shoalwater Storytellers” is a performance group devoted to enacting stories about local history.  Peninsula Players’ founding director Lawrence Lessard and I began the group in 1981.  At first there were six of us – Noel and Pat Thomas, Bob and Senta Cook, Lawrence and myself – but by 1984 the Thomases and Cooks had dropped out and we re-wrote our scripts for a cast of two.  When Lawrence moved away in 1986, Nyel stepped into his very large shoes and for the past twenty-five-plus years he and I have carried on.

Wearing many different hats (sometimes also using them puppet-style on sticks) we have portrayed dozens of characters from pioneer days – ship captains, explorers, lawmakers and lawbreakers, train conductors and stagecoach drivers.  Our set pieces are boxes and barrels which, in the magic way of theater, become sailing ships and preachers’ pulpits, prison cells and railroad cars, even a hangman’s scaffold.

Over the years we’ve performed scores of times in venues from Cannon Beach’s Coaster Theater to Seattle’s Folk Life Festival.  For three memorable summers we performed every Saturday at the Oysterville Church under the sponsorship of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation and with the assistance of a generous grant from Humanities Washington.

The show is fast-paced and lively and involves enough physical effort that we are no longer deriving much pleasure from the performances.  But it’s difficult to let it go.  It has been such a wonderful way to share the history of this little corner of the world that it’s hard to imagine that the Storytellers would just fade into history themselves.

Enter David Immel!  Younger, more energetic and with years as a professional mime in his background, he appears to be a perfect replacement person.  And he’s interested!!!  Today we are going to do a short demonstration for him – our signature “Stagecoach on the Weatherbeach” segment.  He has agreed to take Nyel’s place in a performance of that single piece a month or so from now with the idea that it’s the beginning of a complete change of personnel.

Somehow, it seems fitting that it’s the ‘stagecoach’ that will carry us into retirement and bring a new performer onto the driver’s seat.  All Aboard

1 Comment

  1. Nancy

    Wondering if the Shoalwater Storytellers, as we have known them, will offer a final performance….might be a grand fundraiser for the Oysterville Restoration Foundation.

    Reply

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