Storytelling Subjects

abuse is not LOVE

by Felicia Webster

abuse is not LOVE, is a spoken word play with the creative highlights and energy of Dani Cleveland, Doriette Jordan, Paula Bell and Felicia Webster. This highly charged 40 minute play uses interactive dialogue, gospel, hip hop and theater to disseminate information on the cycle of abuse. With personal testimonies and emotional ups and downs,  this is a show that is dedicated to keeping it real and telling the truth about domestic violence, it’s the healing journey and support needed to make it through the storm.

Nebraska’s Outlaw Trail, Highway 12

by Marci Broyhill

Cowboy poetry, story, humor and a power point presentation, provide information regarding Nebraska’s colorful characters: Doc Middleton, Kid Wade, Jesse James and vigilantes. It also highlights the positive character and influence of ranchers, Ruth and Cal Thompson, owners of the White Horse Ranch. Travel the Outlaw Trail where universal forces of good and evil; past and present often intersect

Poetry of Women on the Land

by Lucy Adkins by Marge Saiser

Women pioneers and homesteaders played an important part in the development and heritage of Nebraska. In this program, Marge Saiser and Lucy Adkins will honor them, sharing poetry they have written from the point of view of Nebraska women living from the 1890’s to the present. In addition, to provide a flavor of daily living in early Nebraska, they will feature excerpts from diaries and letters of plains women from the past.

 

Behind The Meaning of Names

by Karen Gettert Shoemaker

Karen Gettert Shoemaker, the author of the One Book One Nebraska 2016 selection, reads from and discusses the role of family stories and historic research in the writing of her historic novel The Meaning of Names. This presentation includes discussions of World War I, the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, the experiences of immigrants and first-generation Americans in the early 1900s, and the role of men and women in a changing society, as well as the many subjects readers bring to the conversation.

Poetry from the Plains

by Twyla M. Hansen

Hansen will read selections from her poetry and discuss how the landscape of the Great Plains has inspired, influenced and shaped her writing. Her poetry follows in the footsteps of earlier Plains writers, using a sense of place to make connections between the natural and human worlds, the land and all its inhabitants–the ordinary, extraordinary food for poetry and stories about the human experience on the Plains and beyond. This presentation encourages audience questions on subjects of interest to creative writers.

Train Songs and Tales

by David Seay

What is it about trains that so easily engages one’s imagination? Climb aboard with David as he shares a variety of railroad inspired songs and stories that offer peeks into the past from a wide variety of points of view. This upbeat excursion is accompanied by guitar, banjo, harmonica, whistles, and a sing-along or two.

Promise in a New Land: Migrating and Settling in Nebraska

by Cherrie Beam-Callaway

Beam-Clarke, as Mariah Monahan, with Irish brogue and period costume, depicts a Nebraska settler between 1845 and 1870. Based on historical fact, this is a first-person Chautauqua-style presentation. Through a spellbinding rendition, viewers are transported in time to sail the ocean, ride the wagon trail, feel the loneliness and fight prairie fires. Laugh and cry with stories of successful crops, dancing, hard work, grasshoppers, losing loved ones and becoming an American. The program has two sequels entitled “The Courage to Continue” and “Grit n Gumption.” Educational and entertaining. This program is appropriate for all ages.

The Courage to Continue: Changing Homesteads in Nebraska

by Cherrie Beam-Callaway

This is a sequel to the program “Promise in a New Land.” Beam-Clarke, in period attire with Irish brogue, depicts Nebraska life on the prairie, 1870 to 1885. Based on historical fact, she continues her story in a dramatic Chautauqua-style presentation. Selling the homestead, they begin again as cattlemen in the desolate Sandhills. Relive trials of building the sod house, lightning storms, crying for rain, rattlesnakes and the never-ending wind. Delight with the 4th of July, Christmas and American pride. The program has a sequel entitled “Grit n Gumption.” This program is appropriate for all ages.

Grit ‘n’ Gumption

by Cherrie Beam-Callaway

This program is a continuation of stories told in “Promise in a New Land” and “The Courage to Continue.” Reprising her role as Mariah Monahan, in period attire with Irish brogue, Beam-Clarke tells more captivating stories depicting Nebraska life from 1860 to 1895. Hear about children becoming lost in the prairie, dealing with injuries, lack of women in the country, living on cornmeal, need for music and the endless monotonous labor. Learn how they dealt with schooling, childbirth, tornadoes and Indians. Educational and entertaining. This program is appropriate for all ages.

Family Stories into Literature: The Role of Gossip and Research in Fiction

by Karen Gettert Shoemaker

This presentation focuses on the ways writers can use family stories and history to write literature. Sometimes the voices in our heads are enough. Sometimes we need to look beyond the boundaries of self to find the best that is within us. This presentation discusses the ways to excavate history, both our own and the world’s, as a way to finding the true stories only we can write. The program is available in both presentation format and writing workshop format. For adults.

Echoes of an Era

by Paul Siebert

Using the Nebraska State Seal and Flag as a back drop, Paul presents a musical living history program of a family’s journey from Russia to Nebraska in the 1870’s.  Using original and period music with up to 7 different acoustic instruments, storytelling, personal family history, period costume and extensive knowledge on the subject of Blacksmithing/metallurgy, Paul presents an interactive family centered entertaining program.   The presentation is carefully adjusted to suit the specific age group, special interest, time constraints of the listener, and can include the specific event’s local Nebraska history.

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

by Lyn Messersmith by Deb Carpenter-Nolting

Stories, songs and poems about women who left footprints on history by stepping out of place. Consider Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young’s 19th wife, who was instrumental in getting polygamy outlawed, “Baby Doe” Tabor, sometimes called The Silver Queen, or Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the only female to be awarded our nation’s Medal of Honor. Nebraska’s Tad Lucas, lady bronc rider, was the only person inducted into all three Cowboy Halls of Fame. Nebraska also claims Susan LaFlesche Picotte, the first Native American woman to become a physician. If you’ve never heard of Helga Estby, who walked across America in 1996, it’s probably because her achievements were hidden by her family. Her story segues into a discussion of Tillie Olsen’s views about ways that creative women are often silenced.

Legends and Leaders of the West

by Lyn Messersmith by Deb Carpenter-Nolting

Learn about leaders and legends who shaped the American West. Sacagawea, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley, Doc Middleton and others are the focus of this program of original songs, stories and poems. Student activities based on the program are available on request.

Hell on Women and Horses

by Lyn Messersmith

Lyn Messersmith’s poetry mixes with historical and cultural insight to form a program that is personal as well as collective. Messersmith’s views on the landscape and loneliness, as well as the joyful and humorous events that spark ranch life, lead the audience on a journey that follows the quest of Western women for identity, spirituality and a sense of place.

The Heart’s Compass: Women on the Trails

by Lyn Messersmith by Deb Carpenter-Nolting

This is an account of pioneer women crossing the Plains in the 19th century. Carpenter-Nolting and Messersmith present original poems, songs and stories, as well as actual diary entries of women who journeyed on the Oregon Trail.

Corps of Discovery in Song and Story

by Michael F. McDonald

Through original songs and stories, McDonald leads a lively celebration of the challenges and adventures faced by the members of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery.

Playing Around With Words: Poems, Stories, and the Creative Process

by Twyla M. Hansen

Creative writing is a process that thrives on practice. This writing workshop focuses on the creative process for both poetry and short prose. Twyla will use readings of her own and others’ writing, along with guided writing exercises, to create an interactive and supportive workshop. Through these exercises, participants will retrieve their own and others’ experiences to generate new possibilities for unique stories that might also be shaped into a poem or essay. For beginning and seasoned writers, middle school through adult.

The Klondike Goldrush , Seen Through the Eyes of Robert W. Service, Bard of the Yukon

by Stuart C. Lynn

In a Chautauqua-style presentation, Lynn portrays the Scottish-born poet Robert W. Service. Lynn revives the age-old art of storytelling with personal recollections and renditions of ballads about the Klondike gold rush. Service lived and wrote in the Yukon between 1903 and 1910. The program introduces listeners to such characters as Dangerous Dan McGrew, Sam McGee, Blasphemous Bill McGee, Salvation Bill and others.

Tales from Hans Christian Andersen

by Lisa Kramme

The delightful stories of Hans Christian Andersen are brought to life in the imaginations of audience members as Lisa Kramme shares tales by this great Danish author. Listeners also learn about the life of Andersen, including his early struggles and later successes.

Country Tales and Truths

by Richard Kimbrough

This is a look at the residents of a small Nebraska town during the 1930’s and 40’s–­examining both their sense of humor and their values. The stories include Bessie Wemple, the town’s do-gooder, Esty Brace, the egg man at the Co-Op, Old Olaf, the self-­appointed town’s jokester, and Ken and Grace Moore, both amputees who farmed and prospered by helping each other. The program is based on a nationally syndicated column carried by nearly 200 newspapers.

Children Stories, Animal Stories and Traditional Lakota Stories

by Jerome Kills Small

Kills Small tells children’s stories and animal stories that have been passed down for generations as part of the Lakota and Dakota Sioux traditions. Among the types of stories covered are iktomi (trickster tales) and ohunkanka (old legends). When speaking to adult audiences, Kills Small also analyzes the Native American storytelling tradition.

Kiowa Tales

by Matthew "Sitting Bear" Jones

These are the stories, tales and legends of Set-Angia, Sitting Bear’s Native American people. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, these stories reveal the Kiowa vision of the world—from the time of Creation to the coming of the white man. Attired in native dress, Sitting Bear brings to the audience through his storytelling the thinking and customs of his Kiowa people, legends such as why the Crow is black and how the Coyote got his yell.

Stained Glass Windows of Nebraska

by Barbara Johnson

Johnson discusses how stained glass windows are produced; the role of immigrants in designing, producing, and bringing these works of art to Nebraska; and some of the most interesting meaning and detail in religious, educational, governmental, commercial, and residential settings. (In addition to this general program, Johnson offers one reflecting on stained glass in the world and writings of Willa Cather.)

Overland Trails: The Children on the Trail

by Renae M. Hunt

With over 352,000 emigrants traveling the Oregon, Mormon or California trails, one in five were under the age of 16. Many of these youths kept journals. This program discusses how these children traveled and relates some of the stories from their journals. This program is appropriate for all ages.

Nebraska through Song and Story

by Dan Holtz

Nebraska has not only a rich tradition in literature but also a rich, less-publicized tradition in music. This program interweaves songs, accompanied on guitar and harmonica, with excerpts from works by Willa Cather, John Neihardt, Mari Sandoz and Bess Streeter Aldrich. In a narrative from about 1850 to 1904, it tells the stories of the people who came to and through early Nebraska, the pioneers who crossed the overland trails, the settlers and the Native Americans. This program can be tailored for either a young audience or an adult audience.

From Bleeding Kansas to Old Virginny: Songs and Stories of the Civil War

by Dan Holtz

For four years, the Civil War raged on such storied battlefields as Gettysburg and Antietam in the East to lesser-known places like La Glorieta Pass in New Mexico. With guitar and harmonica accompaniment, Holtz performs songs that express the war’s wide variety of sentiments, issues and stories. The program includes some of the popular patriotic and sentimental parlor songs. Thus, the war is chronicled and tied to memorable excerpts from some of the great conflict’s novels, poems and short stories. Holtz can also present the program as living history by portraying fictional Nebraska Territory settler Matthias Parker telling stories and anecdotes as though gleaned from newspapers of the day or from returning veterans. As Parker, Holtz comments on and quotes such personalities as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and John Brown.

Patchwork of the Prairie

by Yvonne Hollenbeck

Hollenbeck presents a trunk show of approximately 30 quilts made by members of the same family spanning 135 years. The stories behind both the quilters and the quilts themselves are shared and accompanied with some of Hollenbeck’s own cowboy/cowgirl poetry.

Poetry of the African-American Cowboy

by Vicki Troxel Harris

A selection of stories from the African-American history of Nebraska have been put to rhyme as only cowboy poetry can be presented.  Harris draws from her research to share stories and poems of love, adventure, and respect, often with a bit of humor.  Those who have already heard the stories told in “African-American Homesteaders and Cowboys of Nebraska” will especially enjoy this program of history in the rhythm and romance of the range.

Quilting Your Legacy

by Janie York

This program begins with stories about the men and women who helped shape Nebraska’s early quilt history and continues with a discussion of quilting as both a form of artistic expression and storytelling medium in our own culture. This program also demonstrates quilting as a method of recording family history. This program can be customized for any age group.

A Tribute to MLK

by Felicia Webster by Michelle Troxclair

Learn through original poetic works the profound effect of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s sacrifice, contributions and legacy today, through the time honored artistic medium of Spoken Word. Spoken Word is part of the Great African Oral Tradition by which familial stories, history, traditions, morals and values, hopes and dreams, pain and tragedy are all relayed through cleverly woven poems and stories.

The Journey of Spoken Word

by Felicia Webster by Michelle Troxclair

The Wordsmiths present the history and nuances of Spoken Word, that part of the Great African Oral Tradition by which familial stories, history, traditions, morals and values, hopes and dreams, pain and tragedy are all relayed through cleverly woven poems and stories. It is the dramatic delivery of the soul through clever wordplay, tonal semantics, metaphor, odd syntax and characterization. It has grown, expanded and evolved. It is powerful, as words often are—when delivered with fervor, soul and spirit of African American people.

The Conversation Through Time: An Introduction to Poetry of Nebraska

by Mary K. Stillwell

When Ted Kooser was named poet laureate, we were reminded that Nebraska offers a well-stocked literary breadbasket, heaped with books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction.  Mary K. Stillwell focuses on our state’s rich heritage in song and poetry, from Pawnee times to present-day writers who continue the conversation about who we were and who we are into our time.

Bright Leaves Flying: An Introduction to U.S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser

by Mary K. Stillwell

Nebraska resident Ted Kooser made headlines when he was named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2004. He served from 2004-2006.  Stillwell places Kooser within the rich tradition of Nebraska poetry and provides an introduction to the poet and his work.  Kooser, born in Ames, Iowa, moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, to study with Karl Shapiro at the University of Nebraska in 1963, and has made his home in the state ever since.  Stillwell will talk about his life and how it influenced his work.  The talk can be tailored to the specific wishes of the audience.

Mark Twain and the Lecture Circuit

by Wally A. Seiler

The great American humorist Mark Twain turned to lecturing as a method of making money. His lectures competed with other forms of entertainment, but he always drew a large audience. His secret was the wonderful stories he told, some true and some fabricated. In this presentation, Twain look-alike Seiler recounts some of Twain’s best-loved writings as he might have presented them on the lecture circuit.

Nebraska Territory Stories

by David Seay

In this upbeat presentation David performs folk music that existed at the time Nebraska became a state on March 1, 1867. Between tunes he discusses how these songs provide glimpses into history by telling stories of everyday life of the pioneers during the 13 years before Nebraska statehood.  This cheerful show works particularly well for family audiences as it has opportunities for volunteers to come up front and participate. Instruments featured are banjo, harmonica, whistles, and mountain dulcimer.

Ghosts, Goblins and Ghouls!

by Dorothy Rieke

This discussion about what makes a story scary includes plenty of terrifying examples. There are age-appropriate stories to thrill and chill any audience.

James Whitcomb Riley, the Fiddling Children’s Poet

by Deborah Greenblatt

Using Riley’s own words, Greenblatt weaves a whimsical glimpse into the world of this famous Hoosier poet. This show, performed in character and in costume, features musical settings of Riley’s poems composed by Greenblatt, as well as portions of Riley’s lectures (he toured with Edgar Allan Poe) and letters (he corresponded with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

Storytelling of the Dakota

by Joyzelle Gingway Godfrey

This presentation demonstrates the historic societal structure of the Dakota people through the medium of storytelling. The adventures of the first set of twins born in the world will give a glimpse of the family structure, food gathering and beliefs of their tribal people.

Storytelling and the Hispanic Oral Tradition

by Linda Garcia-Perez

An experienced storyteller, Garcia-Perez draws on her experiences as a young girl in Omaha’s Mexican-American barrio. Her stories convey a universal message of humor, wonder and tradition. The presentation can be tailored to focus on one of the following topics:

  • “Traditional Hispanic Stories for Families and Children” – using stories to bring to life the myths, fantasies and tales of Latin cultures
  • “Keeping the Oral Tradition Alive: Abuelita (Grandmother) Stories I Heard When I Was a Girl” – examples of stories based on rights of passage
  • ” Traditional Mexican, Central and South American Motifs as Vehicles for Folk Tales” – depicting the life and times of Hispanic People

Feathers and Verses

by Bill Clemente

This program is an exciting multi-media, multi-disciplined program specifically created to incite the imagination and enhance the writing skills of children, especially (but not limited to) 4th to 6th graders. This program combines slides and discussion of common Nebraska backyard birds, their songs, photographs and coloring-book pictures with a variety of creative-writing exercises.