Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her onFacebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.
I’m posting a more in-depth description of one of my programs each month.
Check them all out. Which one would you like to see most?
What’s My Story?
This was one of my first attempts to put together a program that was outside friendly as I started to get requests for those types of programs. In many ways it’s my most flexible program because the length can be easily adjusted. You can run it for 20 minutes, for an hour and a half, or just about any length in between. It also works really well for situations where you expect people to flow in, stay awhile, and then flow out again, since they are individual stories you can come in for one or two and then leave without feeling that you are missing something. It also works well for groups without a lot of knowledge of Laura Ingalls Wilder ahead of time and for younger groups. It can be done for groups of all adults, but that doesn’t work quite as well because as part of the program audience volunteers have to select an object off the table at the start of every story and adults have a much harder time doing this than kids.
I tell interactive stories from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life and from historic tales. Also included are poems and riddles. While I appear in 19th century historic clothing for this program, it’s not a first person program meaning I don’t pretend I’m Laura.
A long table is placed at the front of the space. On this table will be placed an assembly of objects (stuffed animals, a plastic fly, a slate, a china doll, etc.). Each object represents a story, a poem, or a riddle. Audience members volunteer to come up and pick an object and then I tell that story, poem, or riddle. It’s completely up to the audience what comes next. Sometimes an object will have more than one story attached so it can change program to program. Some objects require their volunteer to stay up front and help with the story.
Alternatives for Presentation
There are two major variations of this program available. The usual version has a general mix of subjects. The alternative version focuses on animal stories. That one includes me bringing Pa’s Big Green Animal Book aka The Polar and Tropical Worlds: A Popular and Scientific Description. Read more.
Hosts will have to provide a big table or 2 regular size tables at the front of the space and a small table off to the side or the back of the space. I need to be able to move around the table and the space should be set up so it’s possible for audience members to get up to the front and back to their seats as easily as possible.
Note that the one disadvantage of this program is that unlike in normal storytelling I can’t control the “set” which means that similar stories might be told right after each other and that it doesn’t build to one big finale story at the end. It ebbs and flows with the audience choices.
If this sounds interesting to you, ask a local museum or library to have me come and present What’s My Story?
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.
Most of the programs I put on have a strong element of audience involvement, but when it came to storytelling I wanted to make that an even larger part of the program. So the structure of these programs are a little different than you’ll see with other storytellers. I’ve created a collection of items which are spread out on a table up front at the beginning of the program. Each item represents a story, riddle, or poem. Audience members are selected to come to the front and pick any object they want off the table. That is the story, riddle, or poem that gets told next. Some require involvement from the person who picked it, others expect the entire audience to help tell the story. Some of the stories are related to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life. Other stories are just historical.
That process makes this a very flexible program timewise. It can been done over the course of everything from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. Although I’m not in character, I normally preform this program in 19th century dress and give a bit of introductory information about Laura Ingalls Wilder at the beginning. You don’t have to know anything about Laura Ingalls Wilder to enjoy this program. It works well both where groups are settled and in environments where people are passing through event to event.