The Around Town Tellers kick off their 2021-22 storytelling season with an event hosted by Margaret Murphy and featuring Sandy Cole, Christine Clarke-Johnsen and Deborah Goodman (clockwise from left), among others. (Photos courtesy Lynn Burrows/Bev Cole/Deborah Goodman)

The Around Town Tellers kick off their 2021-22 storytelling season with an event hosted by Margaret Murphy and featuring Sandy Cole, Christine Clarke-Johnsen and Deborah Goodman (clockwise from left), among others. (Photos courtesy Lynn Burrows/Bev Cole/Deborah Goodman)

Nanaimo storytellers’ group returns to virtual space for a new season

Around Town Tellers reflect on ‘connections’ at upcoming Stories on Friday event

Nanaimo’s Around Town Tellers storytelling group is kicking off its 2021-22 season with an evening of stories all about connection.

On Sept. 10 the Around Town Tellers present their first Stories on Friday event of the season. Program coordinator Christine Clarke-Johnsen is one of the storytellers presenting that evening. She said “connections” is a suitable theme.

“We thought it would be appropriate considering that we’re still in the pandemic and people have learned to really connect a lot more than they did in the past,” she said.

That’s also true for the Tellers, who have adapted to gathering restrictions by moving their events from Unitarian Hall to the virtual venue Zoom.

Clarke-Johnsen said some tellers took to Zoom easily, while others like her missed the audience interaction.

“I think everyone wants to be onstage because the sharing of energy between the storyteller and the audience is a very intimate thing and it’s very enlivening,” she said. “If the teller is enjoying themselves the audience is roaring with laughter … None of that shows on Zoom.”

While the lack of the in-person element is a drawback, Clarke-Johnsen said in other ways the move to an online space has been beneficial.

She said tellers from out of town don’t have to make the commute and they’ve been able to feature guests from across Canada.

“It’s been an adaptation but look at the blessing Zoom has given us,” she said. “At our last [event] in June one of the other tellers used to live in Switzerland and her children stayed up in the middle of the night to watch their mom live.”

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Clarke-Johnsen said “we have not stopped in 13 years and we’re going strong.”

WHAT’S ON … Around Town Tellers present Stories on Friday via Zoom on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., “virtual doors” open at 6:45 p.m. Free admission, must register here.

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