"Norah Dooley"

PST Recognizes Norah Dooley, Co-Founder of massmouth, inc for Leadership in the Arts

Reflections on a Creative Leadership Award

by Guest Blogger: Norah Dooley, Co-Founder of massmouth, inc.

This Tuesday, June 4th, 2013  I am honored to receive a Creative Leadership Award at Puppet Showplace Theatre at the Garden Party Gala, celebrating the occasion of their 39th birthday. 

When we first approached Puppet Showplace, in 2010, with the idea of a collaboration, massmouth was just over one year old. We had long known and respected Puppet Showplace Theatre as a venue that supported the art form of puppetry which, much like storytelling, it is an art form with ancient roots that evokes rather than replaces imagination. We also knew that Puppet Showplace Theatre were successful. They had a history that showed grit and commitment that we could admire and aspire to; they had survived as artists and had maintained a continuously operating theater right in the heart of Greater Boston for over 3 decades.

Three years ago, we were whippersnappers, who had just finished our first season of story slams and believed we had a some social capital to share. And if leadership is boldly asking for what one needs, whether  appropriate or not, then I have earned some part of this honor -  although Cheeky Monkey Award would be a name better fitted to my style. We were beggars at the Puppet Theatre gate and  very seriously in need of inexpensive or free office space because our operations had outgrown bedroom/living room arrangement. I suggested a collaboration based on our needs. Ultimately and not surprisingly, the first date between massmouth and Puppet Showplace Theatre did not lead to a relationship.

Norah Dooley Introducing Maria Tatar at our first "Grimm and Twisted" fairytale slam at PST
 - also the 200th anniversary of the Grimms
Skip ahead to this spring.  I am reading ( more precisely, skimming)  the email announcing I was being honored with this award. At first glance I thought that I was being asked to write a recommendation for Roxie Myhrum.  She was the one who helped us find a way to work together.  How perfect, I thought. Roxie is someone with vision, passion and drive. She really deserves this kind of award. I was so delighted to be able to do a small favor for Artistic Director of the Puppet Showplace Theatre that I started to read the email, just to be sure I knew when the deadline for my recommendation might be. 

This closer reading revealed a mind-blowing truth - The Creative Leadership Award was being given to me and Roxie had been my nominator. I know. It was crazy!  Immediately I was on the phone asking Maria Finison, PST Board Member, if the award could be expanded to include the other organizers and founders of massmouth who are still active in Boston. Specifically, Doria Hughes who co-hosted and planned the series at Puppet Showplace Theatre with me and Andrea Lovett, who is always actively promoting the art of storytelling.  They both are leaders in the very best in contemporary performance of traditional material. But, no dice. This is an award for one person and Puppet Showplace Theatre wanted me. They cited the other areas of my work as fitting their criteria; my picture books, workshops, curricula etc. and so, although it is awkward to be so honored, I realized that I had to man-up and take one for the team.  So I accept this award for me as a representative of the art of  storytelling. 

Last summer after a different kind of overture we shared a proposal with Puppet Showplace Theatre and created a project that worked. It had been a dream at massmouth,inc. that we would one day be able to entice a theater or another arts group to support traditional storytelling.  This was an area of storytelling that we had mastered and worked in for decades. When we saw all storytelling on the wane, we started massmouth. When we saw the new energy slams brought to the art form we came up with an idea to mimic our successful 1st person story slams only using traditional content.

Doria Hughes, storyteller fabulosa,  traditional storytellers from Greater Boston and the region and I presented a monthly series of folk & fairy tale slams events right here. Our Slamming the Tradition: Six traditional storytelling events for adults were part open slam, where tellers presented stories no longer than 7 minutes, that were fiction and in some traditional form and part featured performer. Unlike our other story slams, tellers could include props, costumes and music BUT no notes. We secured the prizes and the audience chose winners: A bag of magic beans, magic wishing stone and a small bale of hay were award each month along with a gift card, donated by the Brookline Booksmith. Our first event was written up in ArtsFuse OCT 21 2012.

Performing with Susan Miron on February 14th, 2013 at PST
Audiences and performers enjoyed the project and you can read more about specific nights here. One of the highlights of our series for me was that I was able to create a program and present a feature on Feb 14th,  2013, telling longer stories from Boccaccio's 14th century collection of tales, The Decameron. Giovanni Boccaccio, a favorite of mine. He was an Italian author and poet, and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio is particularly noted for his natural, his skewering of hypocrites in high places, witty dialogue and his sympathetic female characters.

My stories ranged from naughty to lusty, and included romantic tales that came from ancient story traditions of India and the bards of the Holy Roman Empire. Susan Miron accompanied me on the harp. She drew on various ancient folk melodies and dances from Southern Italy. The music comes from authentic folk songs of Campagnia, Calabria, Puglia & Napoli as transcribed by John LaBarbera, mandolinist.

All the performers at "Love, sex and heads may roll." at PST
Thank you so much to Andrea, Doria and Stu, the co-founders of massmouth, to Paula Junn and Hannah Lapuh the staff, the Board of Directors and all the volunteers at massmouth. Thanks to all my friends and supporters especially Sheila Leavitt and Susan Miron. Thanks to all the storytellers and listeners. Thanks so much to all at Puppet Showplace Theatre. You are our artistic cousins and have treated us like family -and you all have been delightfully collegial and fun to work with besides.  And, saving the most important for last, thanks to my family for their support my art and endurance of my absences, rants and excesses as I follow a quixotic quest for a path that leads to right livelihood through work as an artist. Thank you, all.

Support Puppetry This Spring at PST!




Just as a garden needs care and attention to thrive, a small theater depends on the generous support of members and donors in order to survive!  Please help us reach our fundraising goal this spring, so we can continue to bring the magic of puppetry to audiences of all ages! MAKE A DONATION

GUEST BLOGGER: Maria Finison, PST Board Member

Maria and her daughter, Stella!
As a local Brookline resident, fan of the Puppet Showplace Theatre, and current board member, I was happy to be asked to write about our upcoming birthday party celebrations on the puppet blog!
We are very excited this year to be hosting two events for families, friends and supporters.  This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Theatre and all it does for the Brookline and Greater Boston community - all while eating cupcakes! 

On June 2nd from 1:00 to 4:00pm- we will be hosting a family-friendly Birthday Party to celebrate PST’s 39th Birthday.  The event will include fun games, puppet shows, and a Giant Puppet Parade down Station Street to the John Murphy Playground.  During the event there will be cupcakes and a raffle to help support the Theatre. MAKE RESERVATION

On June 4th from 7:00 to 9:00pm- we will be hosting our annual fundraising party with our Garden Party Gala.  For this event, we will be transforming the Theatre into an enchanted garden.  The evening will include performances by emerging artists including our very own Artist in Residence Brad Shur who will be presenting a piece of digital puppetry.  In addition, the Showplace is giving two awards to two outstanding individuals and artists.  The first is the Paul Vincent Davis Award for Puppetry that will be given to Andrew and Bonnie Periale of Perry Alley Puppet Theatre.  The second, our Creative Leadership Award, will be given to Norah Dooley who is the Founder of massmouth, inc.  an organization devoted to the art of storytelling. MAKE RESERVATION

I hope to see many of you at the Theatre for these events.  We are very excited to celebrate with our community of supporters all that we have accomplished this year!

-Maria

Organizations Unite to Promote Storytelling


Puppet Showplace Theatre to collaborate with storytelling 
nonprofit massmouth, inc.

This 2012-2013 season Puppet Showplace Theatre will be teaming up massmouth, inc., a nonprofit organization focused on promoting storytelling in the 21st century, for a new partnership to promote traditional storytelling in Boston. The non-profit organizations are set to collaborate on all-ages, family storytelling performance-and-workshops with massmouth, inc.'s Norah Dooley as well as adults-only Folk and Fairytale slams.

Storytelling Workshop Series Dates

How to Tell a Great Fairytale,” Oct 8 from 3-5pm - Experience the magic of a well-told traditional tale, then learn how storytellers can make fantastical characters and settings come to life using the power of words and imagination. Bring a favorite fairytale, or use one from our collections! Register Here

Family Stories,” Dec 2 from 3-5pm - Heirlooms, attic boxes, old photo albums...Is your house filled with the beginnings of great stories? Just in time for the holidays, learn how to turn mementos and memories into compelling tales that can be shared with friends and family. Bring a photo or any object that reminds you of a person or event in your life or family history. Or simply bring a memory that you think would make a good story. Register Here

Single registrant: $25/person ($20 PST members)
Family pricing: $25/ first participant, $15 additional ($20/$10 for PST members).
Children under 13 must participate with an adult.

massmouth, inc.

Founded in August, 2008 by Norah Dooley, Andrea Lovett and Doria Hughes, massmouth, inc. is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit committed to promoting the timeless art of storytelling in the 21st century through digital and social media, education and live performance. massmouth aims to reinvigorate storytelling in Massachusetts and restore it to its rightful place as a recognized art form.  Additionally, the organization hopes to improve storytelling’s accessibility to all and empower others to listen to, create, and share their stories through education and community outreach. 

For more information, check out massmouth's website. 

Norah Dooley
Norah Dooley, workshop leader


The massmouth, inc./PST collaboration has been spearheaded by massmouth founder Norah Dooley. A storyteller, critically-acclaimed children’s author and educator, Norah started a story slam series in Greater Boston as co-founder of massmouth, inc. Additionally, Norah has published six storytelling CDs, and her widely acclaimed picture book, Everybody Cooks Rice is one of four titles in a series about her former neighborhood in Cambridge, Mass. She teaches storytelling, performance skills, directs theater, and performs in schools, libraries and teacher’s conferences. Norah was the featured storyteller in the Christmas and Spring Revels in Cambridge and Boston, Mass., the Cambridge River Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Albany NY River Festival, 3 Apples Storytelling Festival, MA and at the Clearwater Festival.

For more information about Norah, visit her website.