Published by The Advocacy Committee of the
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Tell Me A Story

The Tribeca Trib (New York, NY) , May 2, 2008

Summary:

An evening of storytelling last month was the culmination of two weekend workshops with professional storyteller Bill Gordh. For a decade, Gordh has taught storytelling to students at the school as part of an annual residency. But this year, thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Center for Arts Education under their Parents as Arts Partners and the Early Stages Programs (supplemented by the school PTA), he worked with parents as well. In the workshops, Gordh helped nearly 40 families shape stories of their choice. Book artist Barbara Grezselo then volunteered to help them illustrate those stories.

“It was a unique, creative, calm and warm moment for the P.S. 150 community members to get to know each other,” said Nancie Katz, who, along with Mitchell Cohen and Amanda Guest, was the force behind the program.

The theme of the workshop was “heritage,” but the term was loosely defined. It could include, said Gordh, anything passed down through a family, including, say, a sense of humor.

“It was a nice setup for the kids to ask questions about their families,” he said.

Randi Larowitz and her daughter Maddie told how Randi’s grandmother swaddled Randi’s father, aged four, like a baby and smuggled him through Ellis Island so officials wouldn’t notice the child’s limp and send the family back to Europe. Her grandmother later saved that same leg from amputation, once from gangrene and a second time after a bad fall. Each time, Larowitz and her daughter repeated the same catchy chorus.

“And my grandmother took him to the doctor and what did he say?” asked Larowitz.

“We have to take his leg off!” said Maddie.

“And what did my grandmother say?”

“I’m not letting you take off his leg!” Maddie cried. By the end, voices from the crowd were chiming in.

Subjects Covered: education, personal storytelling, storytelling festivals


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