Walpole engages in ‘Storytelling for All’

‘Storytelling for All,’ a program open to those of all ages, emphasizes the importance of sharing stories and memories through words, art, music, and laughter.

By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

From infancy, we learn how valuable a good story is. We’re sung to as we fall asleep, and read to throughout the day. As toddlers, our overactive childhood imaginations were always looking to create a story with the help of toys and dolls.

Storytelling is imbedded inside of us, but many adults choose to keep their stories private.

There is a group in Walpole, however, that recognizes the importance of storytelling and encourages it more frequently. Headed by seanchie – a storyteller from Celtic tradition – Alan O’Hare and sponsored by the Friends of the Walpole Public Library, a group of storytellers meets each month to share parts of their lives.

The participants are in no way professional storytellers, but Alan, who has written over 20 plays and 50 original stories, insists that everyone is one.

“We are the stories,” he said, holding up a teddy bear named J.P., who is over 40 years old. As J.P.’s origins are unknown, he has served as an inspiration to tell stories of what could be his past.

For the month of February, though, Alan decided to give the “Storytelling for All” program the theme of love in honor of Valentine’s Day. The first story, Alan decided, would be based on a drawing the participants made to answer what they love about nature.

Several participants drew trees, telling stories of a one true love, sharing feelings of wonder and excitement when fresh snow lightly covers the tree branches, and expressing the peacefulness that comes with laying underneath a tree in warm weather.

Others illustrated waterscapes and confessed that their love for nature is found in Marion digging for clams and quahogs, as well as on family beach trips.

“It’s really good for, first of all, making you think about your own stories,” said Friends president Philip Czachorowski. “We don’t do enough of that, and as Alan says, we all have our stories. And then it’s good that people feel that they can be very open.”

While the entire group, which always welcomes new participants, felt comfortable sharing with one another, Alan’s next storytelling prompt proved for be challenging for some. He asked the participants to share what they loved about themselves.

Although the participants might not have realized at first, they were telling their own stories to accompany and reinforce what qualities and attributes about themselves they loved.

“Alan has so much experience with storytelling and has many different ways and modes of storytelling,” Philip said. “We’re just very honored to have him do this workshop and continue this.”

The program takes place on the first Tuesday of every month in the Walpole Senior Center – although it certainly welcomes those of all ages. However, for the month of March, it will be held at the library on Thursday, March 8, and is listed on the library’s event calendar.

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