April 11,2010

The Boston Globe-"Now Listen To This"

Through, professional storyteller Andrea Lovett, of Abington, is encouraging folks to tell tales.

Through local story slams, you and massmouth cofounder Norah Dooley have invited the public to tell stories alongside experienced pros. Why? We were looking for a way to reinvigorate storytelling and find new audiences. Story slams seem to appeal to a younger generation. They get it. What they bring is a whole new energy. Everybody can tell a story. This is a chance to get up there and try it out. They’re not rehearsed, they are not really polished, but they are real, and so appealing.
How do story slams compare with poetry slams? At poetry slams there will be cheers and jeers. We don’t have that. We feel the story is part of the person – usually they’re personal stories. We’re a little bit kinder and gentler.
The story slams lead up to The Big MouthOff at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square April 20 at 6pm. What will happen there? We’ll have the first- and second-place winners from the last six months of story slams, and the people’s choice winners. So you’re going to hear the best-of-the-best stories in Boston and in Massachusetts. And audience members picked at random will have a chance to tell a two-minute story in a mini-slam format, so they can be part of it. They won’t be judged, though.
What makes storytelling different from other entertainment? Even if the electricity goes out, we still have our words. Even in the recession, especially now, this is great theater with little cost, and you can be transported to Pamplona with the running of the bulls or the back stoop of an apartment in Queens. If the story is good, you can go anywhere.

Word of mouth

By June Wulff Globe Staff / June 11, 2010
  • EDITOR'S NOTES: A boatload of fun

  • This Sunday we’re all in for a treat. A savory, sweet luscious treat, a whole-body experience that will tickle all of our senses as it targets our hearts, minds and yes, even our souls.
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    • By Scott C. Smith 

      Posted Apr. 7, 2016 at 6:00 AM 

      This Sunday we’re all in for a treat. A savory, sweet luscious treat, a whole-body experience that will tickle all of our senses as it targets our hearts, minds and yes, even our souls. Just saunter into the Cavern at the Tavern Sunday for an evening of story telling. You’ll be surrounded by a roomful of folks who are seeking to quench the same thirst – a thirst for story.
      We are so much the stories we’ve heard or read or seen on the screen. Since our parents first read to us, we read to our kids, we read to ourselves, we absorbed at the theater, we watched at the movies, we saw on TV and we learned from our grandparents’ knee, story has been part of all of our lives. Cave man drew stories on cave walls, the revolutionary explosion of the printing press pressed stories into our homes. The miracle of radio brought families together for their favorite adventures, the theater has delighted us with stories for centuries, the Broadway stage, the silver screen, and yes, even the “idiot box” have entertained us immeasurably with stories.
      The relatively recent invention of the short story has fed us bite-size bits of instant gratification. Pulp fiction was a feeding tube of thrill. And then one day George Dawes Green developed The Moth.
      As the story (and The Moth website) tells it, writer Green sought to reproduce story telling nights on his friend’s porch in Georgia at his home in New York. In Georgia Green and friends regaled each other with true stories. As they did, they noticed moths fluttering inside through holes in the screen door aiming for the light in the ceiling. They began calling themselves The Moths.
      Green held story-telling sessions at his home, and they became so popular they started being held in venues throughout the city. Audiences, the website says, were drawn to stories like moths to a flame.
      Green founded The Moth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling, in 1997, and it holds story telling sessions in cities around the country. My first experience with The Moth was with its Moth Radio Hour podcast. I never knew when the show could be heard on public radio, but I delighted in downloaded stories and listening to them on my iPod. I download radio mysteries, short-story podcasts, as well, and not that I listen to them all the time, but they’re right there to entertain when the mood strikes, usually traveling in my car or spending an evening on the porch.
      Andrea Lovett has held story slams, modeled after Moth slams, in Boston for years, and for the past couple of years the South Shore resident has been developing them across the region. A story slam is simply a story-telling competition. Show up for the slam, put your name in a hat, and story tellers will be selected randomly. There is always a theme, and the story teller has to tell a story in five minutes without notes. While there’s some sort of prize, the real prize is in the tremendous fun and entertainment. And the camaraderie and club atmosphere.

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        • Page 2 of 2 - Andrea is holding her third story slam in Plymouth this Sunday at The New World Tavern, downtown, in the back room, The Cavern. It’s a cool nightclub atmosphere. You can make it a full night out with dinner and drinks, or just relaxed and casual, as you wish. Just show up and enjoy a couple of hours of inexpensive entertainment. Tickets cost $10, whether to tell a story or go for the fun. If you want to tell a story, put your name into a hat and the first however many picked will get their five minutes in the spotlight.
          I mentioned it’s a competition. That means there will be judges. This is where I get to smile a bit more brightly. I am returning as a judge for the third time in Plymouth (also judged one last fall in Kingston). My good friend Mike Landers, of Project Arts of Plymouth, is jumping in again, his third time judging. We’ll be joined by our friends WATD Managing Editor Christine James, TV/Internet foodie entertainer Suzannah Locketti, and Quincy College Professor Ken Texeira, each for a second time judging slams.
          The story theme is “Where I’m from.”
          As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. Be prepared to hear some wild tales.
          The winner of this slam will go on to appear in the Grand Slam Story Slam in May at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton with a chance to win a Maine getaway.
          The balloon goes up at 7 p.m. Sunday. So plan to arrive by 6:30, grab your seat, order your food or beverage. If you want to tell a story, drop your name into the hat. And get ready for a boatload of fun.
          Scott C. Smith is GateHouse Media’s managing editor in the Plymouth newsroom. Email and follow him on Twitter @scsmithreporter.

      COMMENTS (0)
      Have you ever grilled your husband’s underpants (we’ve considered grilling hubby), had multiple identities (one of us is plenty, thank you), or spent a few months in India (does loving nan count?)? The five massmouth storytellers at An Evening of Personal Narratives who will deliver their nonfiction spoken words about these subjects and more are massmouth cofounder Andrea Lovett (pictured), Nora Dooley, Elizabeth Appleby, Tony Toledo, and event organizer H.R. Britton. 7-9 p.m. $10. Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge. 617-395-1393.

      Online Magazine 2016/February

      Story Wizard:February
      By Bob Reiser
      Andrea Lovett remembers the moment the dream began. It was Sunday afternoon. She was five years old, crouched with her cousins under
      the dinner table. From their hiding place they could hear the clink of coffee cups, the clattering of plates and the shouts of grown-ups all talking at once. She still remembers the voice of her dad starting to tell
      a story and the sudden silence as the family began listening. Most of all, she remembers the explosion of foot stomping at the end of the tale, as all her aunts and uncles burst out laughing!

      “Those stories were magical. No matter how angry or distracted people had been, the stories brought them together. They became a Family! I knew then, that when I grew up I was going to tell stories - like dad.”
      Years later, when her community was torn by fear and anger about the Gulf War, Andrea found herself turning to stories to bring her neighbors together.
      By now she had become a visiting storyteller at the high school. “The kids were confused and frightened about the news from the Middle East. They were either violently pro-war or anti war. Like a thousand other communities, the war was tearing our town apart. Like other people, most students saw war in terms of popular news and Rambo movies; they had no idea what it was really like. That’s when it struck me -- what if we could get the kids and the veterans together to hear one another’s stories?”
      So she asked students to write a letter to a local veteran whom they or their parents knew, asking them to write back about their war experiences. “I had no idea whether the vets would respond, but they did, and their answers were amazing! They sent photos of themselves and their buddies, some
      of whom they had lost during the war. They wrote honestly about what made them proud and what made them ashamed. Mostly they wrote about how alone they had felt when they came home because no one understood what they had been through.
      The kids were overwhelmed by the responses.
      War suddenly became a reality. It was not about news reports or politics or patriotism; it was about neighbors, people whom they’d met in the street or in the supermarket.”

      Andrea decided to take the project to another level. She asked the youngsters if they would like to meet the vets and speak to them in person. Overwhelmingly, they agreed. A few months later, nearly a hundred teenagers, teachers, parents and a dozen war veterans met in the public library. They filled the meeting room.
      Face to face with vets, the students spoke about their own fears and confusion; the ex-soldiers told their own stories, sharing tales that they had never even told their families.
      By the end of the afternoon the kids and the vets were laughing, even weeping together. Andrea walked among them, amazed. “It was something
      I had dreamed of, but never really believed could happen.”

      Andrea still recalls the reaction of a veteran
      friend whom she had invited. 
      “I had known him for years, and in all that time, he had not been able to even say the word “Korea” without freezing up and walking away. As I approached, I saw him in deep conversation with a student. The youngster was saying, ‘Thanks, Mister, for telling me the truth. That took guts.’ My friend, the vet, stared at the student and tears started running down his face. ‘Thank you, son,’ he said. ‘Thank you for listening to me.’”
      This was not an anecdotal exchange. I can vouch for it because, by a stroke of luck, Andrea had invited me and I was standing next to her when it happened.
      “After that, my town changed,” says Andrea. “There was no more talk in the school about ‘hawks’ and ‘doves.’ There was no more ‘Us’ and ‘Them.’ My town had shared stories. We had become a family.”
      Overwhelmed by the experience, Andrea decided to begin a series of floating swaps, called “Stories on the Porch.” Before her eyes, neighbors who had hardly known one another became fast friends.
      “It lasted only a single summer,” she admits. “I got so busy with other commitments that I had to let folks organize their own swaps.” Unfortunately, withouta dedicated organizer and a regular place and time
      to meet, Stories on the Porch faded away. 
      “The story flame has to be tended or it will go out. Without a host, the fire just dies.”
      Andrea is not someone who gives up easily. You might even call her stubborn; it is a quality that every story host needs. So she found a local general store where people gathered on Saturdays to drink coffee and chat. “It seemed like a perfect location.” With the help of Peter, the owner, she began a series of informal Saturday swaps. People could just drink coffee and listen, or they could join in. It worked for three years!
      Last year, Peter sold the store and the swaps ended. “I am trying to get the new owner on board, but so far he is reluctant to commit himself. ‘Maybe next summer, when the weather gets warmer and we can set up chairs on the lawn,’ he says. ‘I’ll hold you to that,’ I say, and I wink. Sooner or later the magic will get to him, too. That’s how it works.”
      Besides being a seasoned professional storyteller for children and adults, and an accomplished writer and workshop leader, Andrea has a strong sense of community and of ‘giving back.’ She served as president of LANES for two years, is a co-founder of MassMouth, and is still directly involved in bringing communities together through storytelling by building the popularity of Story Slams throughout Massachusetts. Read more about Andrea at http://
      Bob Reiser is a storyteller, teacher, and an award- winning author of books for children and adults. He has been a long-time contributor to the Museletter;
      this issue’s Story Wizard column is an excerpt from Story Fever, Bob’s upcoming book about the incurable passion for story. http://www.bobtales. com/
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      Article in Winchester Star

      WFEE: Storyteller grips Muraco imaginations

      By Staff reports

      Fri Oct 23, 2009, 10:01 AM EDT

      Winchester, MA - Tales of hairy bears, five uncles named “Pete” and purple stuffing for Thanksgiving mesmerized students at a recent Muraco Elementary School assembly.
      A grant from the Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence (WFEE) brought three storytellers to Muraco for a school assembly and individual classroom work.
      The storytellers — Andrea Lovett, Lani Peterson and Norah Dooley — used the assembly to introduce the oral tradition to students.
      “Students take in more vocabulary and complicated concepts through oral tradition,” explained Lovett. “Narrative is their first language.”
      The focus quickly shifted to the classroom where third, fourth and fifth-graders learned how to draw on their own experiences to tell stories about their lives. Once they master telling a story, they will work on writing it, reinforcing existing curriculum.
      Fifth grade teacher Brenda Turney came to WFEE for help bringing the storytellers to Muraco. She believes storytelling will improve student writing and enhance self-esteem.
      “The oral tradition teaches the essential components of how to organize a story,” said Turney. “Often, students who struggle with writing will find that writing becomes easier as they gain storytelling skills.”
      “WFEE was delighted to fund this grant,” said WFEE Executive Director Caren Connelly. “It is creative and promotes teacher collaboration across grade levels. Students with varying abilities and maturity can use their own stories to master writing. This fits well with WFEE’s longtime emphasis on improving literacy skills within the Winchester school system.”
      The storytelling project will culminate in the spring with a school-wide festival

      Time travels: Abington students learn

      about Thanksgiving from storyteller

      By Mikaela Slaney

      Thu Nov 19, 2009, 08:50 AM EST

      In a scene reminiscent of the Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter series, a cloaked woman stood at the front of the class waving a stick over her head as her students emulated her.
      But the students were tying pipe cleaner loops to the reeds and making a game where they could try to catch the loop on the end of the stick.
      Their teacher for the afternoon, storyteller, Andrea Lovett, had taken over Adrienne Whalen’s Center School 3rd grade class to teach the children about what life was like for pilgrims, in preparation for Thanksgiving on Nov. 26.
      The students also spun wooden blades like helicopters into the air, and played with the well-known wooden ball-in-a-cup game.
      But Lovett’s engaging program—A Journey Through Time: A Pilgrim’s Story—was not all fun and games, Lovett said. It was also a chance to learn through the art of story telling.
      “I think it went very well,” Lovett said. “ when I checked in with the students, they understood the message of the story…I try to create images so they have a clear picture of where we are traveling within the story.”
      Earlier in the demonstration, the children were asked to sniff a plant and guess what it could be. Lovett revealed they were mint leaves, which pilgrims used in tea to curb stomach ailments.
      By playing word games with each other, Lovett tested the students’ ability to answer one popular pilgrim riddle—What is full all day and then empty at night?
      After several guesses, Lovett revealed it was shoes.
      “It was fun because we got to make the toys and play with some of them, and smell the plants,” said Fraser Toomey, 9. “I think pilgrim life was fun and sometimes a little bit bad because sometimes there wasn’t a lot to eat.”
      Lovett said she started storytelling 17 years ago, noting she has studied the art of storytelling in classes and workshops under master storytellers including Jay O'Callahan of  Marshfield. .
      “Narrative language is a natural to the brain,” Lovett said. “It makes it easy to grasp information. We think in images.”
      Lovett also teaches storytelling to students at Gardner Elementary School in Allston, adding studies are being conducted in some schools on the possibility that storytelling improves MCAS literacy scores for children when used as an academic literacy tool.
      She currently participates in “Story Slams,” five minute storytelling competitions in Boston, and she also co-founded, an Internet site focusing on storytelling.
      Whalen explained that later this semester, her students will be reading historical non-fiction about young pilgrims Sarah Marten and Samuel Eaton.
      They will also learn what it was like to be a child back then, through the eyes of someone their own age.
      “We’re really just building background in terms of the holidays, talking about Thanksgiving and what they’re thankful for,” Whalen said.

      news articles updated 8/7/08

      Picture In South Boston Times of Citizens Schools Students trained as tellers for
      First Night 
      Boston,(Norah Dooley,Doria Hughes,and Andrea) as story teachers/mentors.

      copy and paste link for latest article Mariner Newspaper

      OUR VIEW: Old-fashioned summer fun
      By The Patriot Ledger
      Editor’s note: Readers often comment that there should be more good news in the paper. While it’s true that there’s more than enough bad news to go around, on Thursdays on the editorial page we will highlight some of the many good news stories that appear on our pages on a regular basis.One of summer’s joys is that families have time to enjoy the simpler things in life - whether a day at the beach, an overnight in a tent or visiting family in a different state.In summer, life isn’t quite as frenzied as it is when school and after-school activities are in full swing. And youngsters have a chance to explore a low-tech, pre-tech world.The fact is, finding stimulation without the aid of something electronic is good for children’s brains. It helps them use their imaginations more.Andrea Lovett of Abington is at the center of one such activity: story telling. She’s been using songs, dance and puppetry to tell her stories in a variety of settings since 1992, and in summer she tells her stories outdoors. ‘‘Folktales from the Forest’’ is a series Lovett has performed in Abington for 12 years. She talks about caterpillars, butterflies, monkeys and other animals, with stuffed animals as props. But it’s Lovett’s animation that brings the stories to life.The expressions on excited children’s faces at Island Grove Park show how much they enjoy old-fashioned stories, even if they grew up in a Sesame Street world.Lovett’s series continues in Abington through August, with free programs on Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. and on Aug. 16 at 10 a.m. For more information, call 781-871-5892.

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