Support Our Virtual Storytelling Adventure
In the strange, tumultuous months since The Wren’s Nest closed to the public in March, our 100-plus-year-old institution has had to adapt and change repeatedly. One of those adaptations has been taking our programs virtual — including our regular Saturday storytelling. And, we have to say, these performances have certainly been a silver lining for us!
While Joel Chandler Harris may be the reason The Wren’s Nest was preserved as a museum, at the heart of our history and our mission is storytelling. We love our Saturday storytelling and the opportunity they provide to share these tales in the form in which they were originally told. We hated the idea of discontinuing them during our closure.
So we adapted. And on Saturday, April 18, we launched the first virtual storytelling session, livestreaming the performance on our Facebook page at 1 PM (our regular storytelling hour). Visitors to our page could watch, comment, and share in realtime. We are very grateful to our regular Wren’s Nest storyteller Chetter Galloway for agreeing to be our first guinea pig for the experiment.
Since then, we’ve had 10 online storytelling performances with eight different professional storytellers ,with another scheduled this Saturday with Wren’s Nest storyteller Gwendolyn J. Napier. You can find all the performances on our website or YouTube channel.
Virtual storytelling has created exciting opportunities for us. First, we can now share the stories that entertained, inspired and taught so many (including Harris) to a wider audience than ever before. We can also introduce them to new audiences who may not have had access to Wren’s Nest storytelling in Atlanta.
Second, we were fortunate enough to receive a matching grant from the City of Atlanta to help fund this program. In this fundraising campaign, the City of Atlanta has agreed to match each $1 up to $2,000. The campaign ends tomorrow, Wednesday, June 24th and we hope you will consider donating. All donations will go directly to supporting the professional storytellers performing for virtual storytelling.
Third — and perhaps the most exciting opportunity for me personally — we have had the chance to share the talents of some professional storytellers who are new to us. With virtual storytelling, we reached out to the Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia and the Southern Order of Storytellers to enlist new performers for the virtual program. It’s been a delight to see the different, but equally talented performing styles and to infuse new stories into our Saturday storytelling. In addition to our beloved Brer Rabbit stories, we had a performance of a Nigerian folktale from Gloria Elder called “Why the Sky is Far Away.” We also had a performance from Barry Stewart Mann of a trickster tale called, “Coyote and Mouse,” which originates from the Native American and Hispanic traditions of Northwestern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Stewart Mann even incorporated Spanish into the story, teaching our audience (and honestly, me) some new Spanish vocabulary.
But we are forever grateful to our Wren’s Nest storytellers for jumping on board with this program. Our regular storytellers — Esther Culver, Chetter Galloway, Akbar Imhotep, Gwendolyn J. Napier — have helpfully rolled with the new circumstances, figuring out how to do their performances online and, in some cases, mastering new technologies to make it happen. We are lucky to have them on our team.
And we want you to get to know them better. So in addition to continuing with Saturday virtual storytelling this summer, The Wren’s Nest will be sharing interviews with our storytellers. The interviews will be released every other Wednesday starting on July 8, culminating in a longer interview with Akbar Imhotep in celebration of his 35 years of storytelling at The Wren’s Nest!
As summer begins and reopening remains uncertain, we are glad we still have storytelling to look forward to on Saturdays.