Thursday, 22 November 2012

Coming soon! Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting

Remember Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, or Hänsel and Gretel?

If you do, thank the Brothers Grimm, who collected these stories and hundreds of others. This December marks the 200th anniversary of their first fairytale publication. Storyteller Dale Jarvis and musician Delf Maria Hohmann are celebrating, and want you to join them December 5th-6th at Petro Canada Hall, Memorial University, at 8pm.

In 1812, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first of what would become a two volume book of tales, gathered from the German people. Unbeknownst to the Grimms, this was destined to become the best known, most widely translated, and most influential book ever created in the German language.

This December marks 200 hundred years since that first publication, yet these stories still continue to catch us unawares. Fierce, funny, and ancient, yet contemporary in their ability to reflect our strengths and weaknesses, these are stories handed down through the ages because they are essential to humankind.

“The Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting” is a 2-hour theatre show, written and performed by Dale Jarvis with music by Delf Maria Hohmann. For the past decade, Jarvis and Hohmann have been retelling the most famous, as well as some of less well-known, Grimm’s tales. Their new show tells the life story of Jacob and Wilhelm, interwoven with classic stories and the music of the period. It will run December 5th and 6th at the Petro Canada Hall, in cooperation with Memorial University’s Department of German and Russian, in celebration of December’s 200th anniversary of the publication of the Grimm’s Kinder- und Hausmärchen.

Jarvis and Hohmann go back to the source. That means their stories are not for the faint
of heart.

"These are the real deal,” says Jarvis. “These stories are full of loss, longing, violence, blood, wicked men and women; they contain the best and the worst of humanity, always alongside themes of hope, and rebirth. But these stories are definitely not for children!”

A portion of the show’s proceeds will support the H.H. Jackson Travel Scholarship in German. This scholarship was established upon the retirement of Dr. Herbert H. Jackson, Professor Emeritus and first Head of the Department of German and Russian. The scholarship is awarded annually to a candidate who is planning to undertake a program of studies and/or work assignment in a German-speaking country.

The Brothers Grimm: 200 Years and Counting
Written and performed by Dale Jarvis. Music by Delf Maria Hohmann.
8pm, December 5-6, 2012
Petro Canada Hall, School of Music, Memorial University

Tickets $20, cash sale only, available at the door, and in advance from:
Department of German and Russian, Science Building, SN3061C
or Britannia Teas and Gifts, 199 Water Street

(photos by Chris Hibbs)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A phantom Viking longship in Fortune Bay, Newfoundland

A little before Hallowe’en, I sat down at a local coffee shop with Colin, who had a treasure trove of ghost stories from Harbour Mille and Grand Bank. His family was one of the founding families of Harbour Mille, and he was full of stories about various members coming back from the dead to say hello or show displeasure about the actions of the living.

Today, Harbour Mille is a small fishing village of around 200 people, sitting in the well protected harbour of Fortune Bay, about 26 km off the Burin Peninsula Highway. The town sits on an isthmus, and hills rise, saddle-like, to the west and the east. It has both a sheltered harbour at the north, and a beach to the south.

Across the bay to the northwest is the now abandoned community of Bay de L’Eau. Though separated by five or six km of open water, the two communities are linked by a rather intriguing ghost story.

Colin learned the Bay de L’Eau half of the ghost story from a friend, David, who also has roots in the Harbour Mille area.

As the legend goes, there was a group of fishermen in a schooner, sailing in to Bay de L’Eau. As they came close to land, they saw what they later described was a Viking ship that was coming out of the bay.

“The description that the sailors gave afterwards was very much like a Viking longship or a drakkar,” says Colin. “The men were wearing fur pelts, and of course speaking a language which they didn’t understand.”

The two companies parted ways, and the longship vanished from sight.

“When David heard the story, he thought ‘they’re describing a Viking ship, with Vikings on it,’” says Colin. “This is rather interesting, because this ties into a story from Harbour Mille with dear Aunt Sarah.”

Aunt Sarah was Colin’s great-grandfather’s sister-in-law, who lived in Harbour Mille in the late 1800s. Aunt Sarah was the source of the second half of the ghost story, a story passed down to Colin from his father and grandfather.

“She heard this ruckus and she thought there was some kind of a social or whatever going on in the Orange Lodge,” recalls Colin. “This was at night. She looked out through her bedroom window, the second storey, and she said these men came in on a barge, into the harbour, got to the shore, lifted the barge up on their shoulders and then walked out over the hills with the barge. So I’m wondering if this barge isn’t the same ship.”

“In the mid to late 1800s that would have happened,” he adds. “She is buried in the old cemetery, and died in the very early 1900s.”

There is a relatively famous Viking ship story from the area around L’Anse aux Meadows, but the Harbour Mille - Bay de L’Eau tale is the first version I have heard from Fortune Bay.

“Barge is not a word which we would have ever really used,” says Colin, “so I don’t know where they got the word barge.”

His interpretation is that Aunt Sarah used the word barge to describe a long flat boat of a type she was unfamiliar with.

The story of the men picking up the “barge” and carrying it across the hills is equally intriguing. Viking longships were constructed to be both light and strong; the crew of a small one could quite easily take down the mast, overturn the craft, and portage it over land to the next fjord or bay if needed. It has been argued that this capability added to the legendary suddenness and speed of Norse raiders.

It is an interesting story, and I would love to know if anyone out there has heard anything similar, either from Fortune Bay or anywhere else in Newfoundland and Labrador. If it sounds familiar, send me a note at

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Two-day workshop with ALEXIS ROY storyteller

Saturday, November 17th from 1-5 pm and Sunday, November 18th from 10 am -2 pm.
Gower Street United Church, St. John’s
$40. Only 20 spaces available


In this workshop, the participants will learn about the notion of stage presence. Alexis Roy will talk about the 5 fundamental laws of presence, achieved through proven techniques from various theatrical styles (Eugenio Barbas, Oleg Kissiliëv), which will allow storytellers to free themselves from their old reflexes and stereotypes. Telling without showing or mimic, but with a free body.

This is a workshop for storytellers who have some experience.


• 5 laws of presence – paying attention to the here and now.

• 5 laws of timing – listening to the audience.

• 5 voice exercises.

Presence also translates in rhythm. We’re talking not only about physical rhythm, but also rhythm in the voice and the way the story is delivered. In this workshop, you will learn rhythm techniques from the clowning arts. As far as stage presence goes, fixed points are similar to silence in a musical piece: an essential break, governed by a set of rules.

Storyteller and actor, Alexis also works in hospitals as a therapeutic clown. Lover of grandiose and magic territories, he is artistic director of the Festival de contes et légendes de l’Innucadie, a story-telling festival held during the summer in Natashquan. He coined the name Innucadie to illustrate this reunion of First Nations Innu and Québec North-Shore Acadians.

To register, contact Mary Fearon