You are a dancer, a visual artist, a monologuist - yet you describe yourself as essentially a storyteller. How does storytelling connect the many artforms that interest you?
LSPN: In all that i do, i seek story. For many years i would tell people that i was dancer/puppeteer/storyteller/visual artist, but it occured to me that the consistent link to all of my work is that it's story based. Whenever i start a new project, it has to have a strong story that can evoke visual images to me, and then i add the words, the movements the sounds. And that is how i am a storyteller.
After animating and producing many performance events over the years, what inspired you to launch FOOL - festival of oral literatures?
LSPN: When i first became active in the Toronto storytelling community, i was in awe of all of it's talent. And yet, i noticed that at many events, i was among one of the youngest tellers/listeners. I started looking around for my generation of storytellers, and found that they looked a bit different. Instead of using a more traditional way of telling like i had seen, some of the artists were singing stories, dancing them and telling them in more contemporary ways. I was interested in getting the two communities together in one room to see what sort of magical ruckus would occur. And so, Dan and I decided that it was a grand time to start FOOL!
Some of FOOL happens in house concerts. Why did you want to explore this way of presenting performances? Is there a new trend to presenting art in intimate settings?
LSPN: I think that in our day and age of computers, ipods, cell phone and all things that go beep, we have lost a connection to others. I feel like people don't look at each other in the eye any more. They are easily distracted in our very noisy world. I am interested in creating new ways of bringing people to stories. A house is a more sacred space, and as a guest, i think that it welcomes a new sort of listening. I wanted to bring new groups of people together so that they can listen in a new way. I think that house concerts are becoming popular again. New trend? I don't think so, i believe it's been happening for many years, but we just didn't know about it!
What happens to you and for you as a listener when you're hearing a great storyteller?
LSPN: It's a strange thing that happens when i hear a great storyteller, and honestly, it's a bit freaky. The best way to describe it is through a story. One night I was at 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling and a great teller, Ron Evans began to tell a story. As he began to tell his story, time stopped and everything else fell away(just like the famous scene in West Side Story when Tony meets Maria) , and as i watched Ron, his face morphed and he became a young maiden, an old man, a creature, a bird. I thought that i was going crazy, but i looked around, and everyone else was fine. Ron didn't do anything to become those charachters, but it was like they became him. Like i said it was freaky, but it has happened a few times when i hear amazing tellers. Other times, i just sit there with a big grin on my face, like a child, and i often leave feeling energetic, filled with ideas, wanting more!