Telling Stories: Alumna performs at National Storytelling Conference
By Kasey Carty-Campbell
Photo by Melissa Ray
“Ma cherie, tu vois bien that we cannot feed nos enfants. The only thing to do is to take them to the woods and lose them there.”
With these words, Katye Jordan (theatre & performance studies, 2008) captivated the audience at the National Storytelling Conference held Aug. 7-11, in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Selected as one of five performers in the Georgia State Showcase, Jordan became the first Kennesaw State University student or graduate to perform at the national storytelling level at the conference hosting 300 national and international storytellers.
Jordan performed the French folktale “Le Petit Poucet,” meaning “the little thumb” and named after the main character who was “no bigger than your thumb when he was born.” She combined her passion for storytelling and the French language by peppering the translated French folktale with words from its native language. This arrangement created more authenticity, while still being sensitive to non-French speaking audiences.
“Katye had a fluid telling at the conference, well paced with her use of pauses. Her listeners were able to internalize and enjoy her telling, especially when she used French phrases,” says Mary Elena Kirk, a member of the selection committee for the Georgia State Showcase and supporter of the KSU Tellers, the university’s storytelling company. “Her gestures were clear, precise and graceful, painting clear pictures in her listeners’ minds as she combined these with her word imagery.”
Jordan, performing at the National
Hannah Harvey, assistant professor of theatre and performance studies, agrees. “Katye’s maturity as an artist and a scholar shows through, as well as the cultural sensitivity she has gained through her international experiences. The breadth and depth of her commitment to research, her cultural sensitivity and her bilingualism make her an excellent storyteller and ethnographer.”
Before 2007, Jordan’s theatre experience had not included storytelling. “I always had a limited view of what theatre was,” she says. “As I took more classes at KSU, I realized it was more than only performing plays on a stage, but a way to affect change and to offer a way for people to be fulfilled.”
Her exposure to performance ethnography at KSU and her recent time at the conference have provided a new perspective for Jordan on how she views storytelling. “I want to provide an environment of community, allowing people to have a shared experience,” she says. “The performers at the conference showed me that the more talents and the parts of yourself that you include in your stories, the better they are and the more the stories become your own.”
At the end of August, Jordan will continue to develop her talents, studying French at Parole de Vie Bithel in Sherbrooke, Canada, for three months. As she looks to the future and the possibility of one-day teaching performance ethnography, she also realizes that the stories that make up her life and the connections she has to make are forever a part of the story she has to tell the world.