No one said we were telling stories.
But family and friends always shared their lives that way. The stories wrapped around me while at the breakfast table, at reunions, leaning under the hood of a car. Shaped by what we knew happened, what someone told us had happened, and what we knew should have happened—we shared a tangle of truth and lies to explain who we were, where we came from and to guess at where we were going.
I returned to this familiar, intimate form after a decade working in theater as an actor, writer and director.
I tried to write down some of my father’s stories, and the rhythms weren’t right until I spoke them. Then his voice rose up with echoes of my aunts and uncles, my mother jumping in clarify this and that.
It wasn’t so much nostalgia as finally hearing the struggle
to create a common memory.
How can we remember together, despite our varied backgrounds? How can our shared memory stretch from before we’re born, remember places we’ve never been, survive us? How can we live together for a while?
In stories, I’m certain, the old and the new. They run together like past and present, like the Midwest and South where I come from, like the traditional and original in my work. Whatever questions are worth considering will rise up out of the details of what happened and how we got through it. Then we will recognize ourselves in each other’s stories.
Steven has performed and led workshops over twenty-five years for adults, children and the interesting combination of the two called families.
He served as artist-in-residence for colleges through the prestigious North Carolina Visiting Artist Program as well as working with the Washington State Cultural Enrichment, the North Carolina Mountain Arts, and the South Carolina Arts in Education programs. He formerly directed the storytelling program for Stagebridge, America’s longest running senior theater company in Oakland, CA.
Steven studied acting and directing at the University of Oklahoma, and Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served as board chair of the National Storytelling Network, as well as on the boards of the Bay Area Storytelling Festival and the LA Storytelling Festival.