Thursday, March 08, 2012

Jan O'Callahan, Frankfort, Marcyh 9 - not to be missed.

Commissioned by NASA

for its 50 Anniversary

Master Storyteller Jay O'Callahan's

Forged in The Stars

The Human Spirit


Art and Science

Imagination and Technology

Grand Theatre Frankfort, Kentucky

Friday, March 9

7:30 PM

Admission $15 — $18 — $20

For tickets call 502 352-7469 M-F 10:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m.

or online at

Sponsored by

NASA Kentucky of the University of Kentucky

The Grand Theatre - Frankfort

A Paul Elsey Roots Music and Storytelling Event

For more information about Jay O'Callahan and his art go to

Forged in the Stars: the NASA Story

By Jim Carroll

In 30 years as a master storyteller, Jay O’Callahan has developed an understandable confidence in his ability to mold a story that enlightens and entertains an audience. He has, after all, reached the top of his avocation – appearing at prestigious venues such as the Abbey Theater in London, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and even at the Olympics.

But even such a seasoned weaver of tales was a bit taken aback when he received a call in 2006 from an official for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with an intriguing proposition. The 50th anniversary of NASA was approaching in 2008. Officials wanted him to tell the story of NASA.

Was he intimidated by the assignment?

“Yes, I was,” O’Callahan said in a recent telephone interview, in advance of his Friday 7:30 p.m. presentation at Frankfort’s Grand Theatre. “I don’t think I would have taken it on years ago, but I’ve been doing this work for over 30 years, and I thought it would come together, and it did.”

However daunting the task would be, O’Callahan saw a great opportunity to interview many of the brave, dedicated men and women who led the United States on a quest that reaches beyond our solar system.

Over the ensuing year and a half, O’Callahan read dozens of books about space exploration and conducted interviews with countless scientists, engineers, astronauts and other NASA officials around the country.

He settled on three figures to illustrate various aspects of NASA’s history – a Cherokee from a modest background who became a leading NASA engineer; Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon; and Christa McAuliffe, who perished in the Challenger explosion and was to have been the first teacher in space.

Spirit of NASA

The spirit of NASA emerged as O’Callahan interviewed the young men and women who guided NASA to the moon and beyond.

“How do I dramatically convey this spirit?” O’Callahan asked himself. One day, the solution occurred to him – invent a fictional couple that struggles with communication, with commitment, and with a shared vision.

With that revelation, O’Callahan gave life to Kate DeCordova, an engineering student at Northeastern University, and Jack Carver, a doctoral student in astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their ups and downs as a couple would help illustrate the inevitable growing pains, the triumphs, and the tragedies of NASA in its first five decades of existence.

With this dramatic framework, O’Callahan began writing the NASA story. The presentation would include some of the most historic moments of NASA – the Apollo mission in which man first walked on the moon, the two Voyager spacecraft and their continuing flight to the edge of the Solar System and beyond, and the horrific Challenger accident.

He entitled the 75-minute presentation “Forged in the Stars.” In the fall of 2009, he premiered the presentation to a large audience of engineers and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Filled the house

The JPL staff filled the auditorium seats, and O’Callahan immediately sensed that the audience was riveted. At the conclusion, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

The story of NASA has not been concluded, O’Callahan said. What will the next 15 years bring?

“We need to work toward the immediate goal of going to Mars to find biological life,” he said. “I also wouldn’t be surprised if in the next 50 years that we discover life on another planet.”

“Forged in the Stars” is sponsored by NASA Kentucky, associated with the University of Kentucky, and is a Paul Elsey Roots Music/Storytelling Event.

Art exhibit

Sallie Lanham’s exhibition of watercolor and oil paintings entitled “Water Symphony” will be open during the performance as it is for all Grand programs and at other times by contacting the box office.

The exhibit, which is designed to promote awareness of water – both its beauty and fragility – continues through March.


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kisses, Kisses, and KISSES

Story submission

Kisses. kisses, and kisses.

There are three kinds of kisses.

Ordinary kisses, stirring ssexy Kisses, and then

there is that rare, mind-blowing KISS

that changes one’s life forever.

This is the true story of the third kind of kiss that

waited 54 years to happen.

l am a Spellbinder storyteller in Lexington, Kentucky, member of the second largest chapter of Spellbinders in the USA. This kiss happened between my Spellbinder buddy, Charlie Eyer and his bride, Carolyn. I will provide his telephone number for verification at the end. I am submitting this story with their approval.

Long time ago, in the 1940s, two young teens in Paducah, Ky just enjoyed hanging out with each other. This friendship began and continued during the last two years of high school.

He was always at her house, did her homework while

she talked on the phone with her boyfriends. They did lots of things together, mostly talking and walking, with the young Charlie taking lots of pictures with a big camera hie father

had acquired in a swap. They both simply enjoyed their friendship. He was very shy, a self-described "nerd." so they never "dated," or had a single kiss.

After high school graduation, they both went their own ways

married and had families. They never saw each other again or talked for 54 years.

Now it was the year 2--6. It was 54 years later.

Charlie discovered his high school friend was divorced and asked for a date. Then they had their very first date, which ended in their very first kiss, which began as a peck.

That Kiss was the third kind of kiss.

It was the one they had waitjed 54 years for, without knowing it.

--the one that has such magic, mystery, adventure, passion and promise that it totally changes one’s world view.

Disappointed in love and marriage, both families raised

and out of the house,. it was the kiss that both

had unconsciously, unknowingly waited for.

Six years later, they are still into their honeymoon.

Charlie and I were both born the same year, 1929, and we are both "awesome Spellbinder storytellers,performing for and delighting countless children in our schools.

Spellbinders® is dedicated to restoring the art of oral storytelling to connect elders to youth, weaving together the wisdom of diverse cultures throughout time.

Charlie and Carolyn Eyer can be reached at (859) 223-2276

My cell is (859) 293-5302

© Paschal Baute, 2012

My web page is

Thursday, August 04, 2011

2011 Spellbinder Training Outcomes, summary of evaluations.

Spellbinder Training, 2011
Jessamine County Public Library, Nicholasville, Ky.
Led by Charlie Eyer, Margo Radcliffe, Madge Lynn and Paschal Baute
Report by Paschal

Sixteen of the 18 who completing the training, 15 women and one man, signed Commitment Agreement, to join Spellbinders. I am delighted with that number. Which is 91%.

This was the first time I had responsibility for the entire three days of training. I set out to create a warm, welcoming, sharing, friendly, learning community by using interactive exercises as often as possible. I believe we created that environment as evidenced by the ending attitudes of the participants. I was pleased and delighted with the presentations of the other trainers, each of whom did, INO, a great job.

Although I used small group process often, from the Thursday morning break on, we still did not get enough practice time foe some. I think I know why and will share at the debriefing where we can have time to talk. I can use another process model, if we do it agin, to get more speaking time for everyone.

Greg and I decided volunteers will receive Spellbinder badges at their first Spellbinder meeting, and their Certificate of Completion of Training after they complete at least two shadowing experiences. I look forward to other feedback.

I have participated in four training sessions, missing only the one last year. I believe this was the more thorough, demonstrating more variety of stories and performance styles, , the most user-friendly, and the most instructive and effective one we have done, due mainly to the team approach we used. I love the fact that these learners were exposed to a variety of storytelling styles, with many tips and hints, from four of us. I hope Lexington can continue and build upon this collegial experience. Thank you, Charlie, Margo, and Madge. Art Herman gave us one afternoon for coaching and a story. Charles Hardy, Margaret X and Gloria X (the two self-styled “virgin” storytellers who tell together) came the first morning to give us testimonials. I shall post the invited remarks of the three other presenters separately after they are received. Compliments about the food and the facilities were abundant and generous. For more feedback, see videotape.

Rate these on a 1-5 scale, 5 being highest.
AVERAGES for the first five statements:
There was sufficient balance among stories, ideas, and exercises. 4.94
The handouts and study notes were clear and helpful. 4.5
I had sufficient opportunity to participate and practice. 4.8
The trainers were empowering. 5.0, with one adding many +’s
I feel prepared to begin a storytelling apprenticeship. 4.56
(If not, please find a time you are comfortable sharing this with one of the Workshop Leaders.)

NOTE: If all 18 participants had turned in Evaluations, the figures above would most likely be lower, because two did noit sigh up, so their experience wcould be less positive than the 16 who did commit.

Kindly print your answers to the rest:
This is the first time we have attempted this collaborative model of team training. Please tell us how you liked it and whether it worked for you. Were the differing presenting styles beneficial for you to learn better, feel encouraged and more confident to become an apprentice
Slowed the energy and dynamic of the story; safe and kind community for haring; joy of needing service and encouragement; sharing expertise; practicing, practicing, practicing; great job; great group of pro’s presentations,; stories and suggestions from all; wonderful excellent training; practice most fun thing I have done; encouragement that I can be a spellbinder could not be better; successful; spellbinder storyteller; Energy and dynamics, wish it had lasted four days; great teachers, most fun thing I have done; appreciate variety of different inputs; loved the team approach; More confident Very much so; having opportunity to see different styles of delivery; individual storytellers inspiring and encouraging; Yes, Yes;
The most valuable”take-away” for me was:
That I can do this activity as long as I like
Lots of support of folks with information and encouragement
Wish I had taken more notes
Being aware of the development stage of the audience, will learn more in monthly meetings,
Gaiming the confidence to be able to do storytelling
Stories and suggestions form each leader
Encouragement and many story options
Encouragement that I can be a spellbinder
Interaction and experience with others, how far reaching spellbinder
To hear storytelling from veterans
New friends
how wonderful storytelling isl
the value of sharing stories and new friends
Practice and know your story,
Relax and enjoy
How to use your voice, and facial expressions.
Learning the words to paint the picture. Just go with it and have fun.,
Exposure to storytelling and having fun

Please give at least one suggestion for improvement of the training.
Did not like reabind out loud from notes
The presentation, facilities and food were so good, I cannot complain
Everything was wonderful, excellent training session
I would have liked more practice time,
Need to exercise our storytelling in front of seasoned pros
Could not get any better
Keep it up and expand
More time to practice storytelling
Don’t run out of coffee
Thank you. Workshop was wonderful. Loved the resources. Might have the librarian to bring in books to use.
More practice but don’t know how we could do it.
Maybe story choices could be fewer.
Separate rooms for larger break out groups. Too much noise in one large room.
Keep it as it is. Difficult to suggest any improvement.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Brief History of Spellbinders

A Brief History of Spellbinders

The Spellbinders program grew out of an oral history project in a Denver middle school in 1989. While leading that project Germaine Dietsch noted how eagerly and intently children listened to the stories told by their elders. Germaine realized that it was not only the stories, but also the sense of connection and intimacy produced by the person-to-person storytelling that created the magic. This led her to seek sponsorship from Denver Public Schools to recruit a group of senior citizen volunteers to tell stories in the schools' classrooms. The schools volunteer specialist, Christine Smith, enthusiastically supported sponsorship. Her administrative office underwrote several sessions in the art of storytelling given by professional storytellers to the first group of six volunteers. Before long the six grew to twenty. Later, the informal storytelling sessions were developed into a three-day workshop by Cherie Karo Schwartz, a professional storyteller, and Germaine. The workshop, which became a requirement, enabled volunteers to become classroom storytellers Spellbinders!

More information contact Greg Davis, Lexington Public Library 231-5554,
or contact Paschal at
Next training is last week of July, 2011, Lexington.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thanks to Beth Kirchner and the Woodford Theater ensemble, 1776

Ms. Beth Kirchner
1776 ensemble
Theater front office and all volunteers

Wow! Simply Awesome!

Last fall, when I saw 1776 listed on the season program,
I said to myself.
Whose crazy, over ambitious idea?
No way.
I saw the movie.
1776 is too ambitious for an amateur theater.
Too many singing parts,
Too many critical acting roles.
Too much male bawdy humor to bring off well.
It is unlikely any amateur production could handle.

Was I ever wrong. Delightfully wrong.

Now I am a disable Veteran, my latest classification from the VA is “catastrophically disabled” Believe it or not, I have served with every branch of the U. S. Military, Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines (in that order), both enlisted and commissioned, active and reserve, over some 22 years.

That last scene, the signing one by one, was holy, sacred, deeply moving moment fo me, with enormous spiritual significance, not only to my life, but I believe also in the vast history of the cosmos.

Those words and ideals, as so well expressed, are still changing the world, now in the Middle
East. All over the Middle East, so much that the uprising are being called “an
Arab Spring.”

My wife and I are season ticket holders of four tickets, and bring different friends each time to introduce them to your theater. The couple we brought yesterday were enormously impressed, already being history buffs.

Another compliment. What a difference between the full dress rehearsal and this performance. May 12 was well recessed and delivered, moire more as a kind of warm up practice. Between May 12 and May 29, the whole cast really caught fire with the passion of the historian moment.
Great difference.

Yesterday, your cast knew, really knew they were creating, no, recreating one great moment of awesome spiritual experience. You all deserve no end of Kudos. They created, for me at least (and also for our guests), a powerful experience, a “church-moment of deep gratitude” (and I am a former Benedictine monk and Catholic priest). You could and should perform this all over the world.

I am simply delighted with what all of you are doing there. It is quite incredible that you have found so many volunteers with such talent and generosity.

Thank you also for your generosity in allowing me, a Spellbinder storyteller to invited other area storytellers to the full dress rehearsal night. We have three days of training , sponsored by eh Lexington Library (I am one of the trainers), but there is only a good introduction. As Ruth Sawyer said, it takes a while to become a fine storyteller. This opportunity provides not only an introduction to what you are doing here, but also Continuing Education in he art and Craft of storytelling for our Spellbinder group. May I hope this hospitality might be continued with your c successor?

This is only my third season, but yesterday, wife and I agreed , was clearly the best ever.

Best wishes for yourself
and for your staff, all the performers,
and all the volunteers who contribute so
generously to make this happen.

Paschal Baute
Spellbinder storyteller and psychologist
May 20, 2011.

My newest book now being completed,
Storytelling: Mystery Power and Genius
catches this 1776 moment as
a powerful example of how
story nurtures the human spirit

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Storytellng activities. local and regional.

and elsewhere. Internet sources included.
More than you wanted to know. Paschal Baute. 3/3/2011

A. Internet sources

1. Kentucky Storytelling Assn Events Calendar: . Link
Link /

2. Spellbinder and other storytelling in central Ky link
See links at the bottom of this page.

B. Regular local activities.

1. Wandering storytellers, Natasha’s Bistro. Downtown Lex, opposite Chase parking, middle of block.
Last Monday of each month, 8-10 two KSA members telling and open mike
March 28 will be Charlie Eyer and Paschal the Rascal.

2. Lexington Toastmasters open practice at Common Ground Coffee Café, on High near Rose, right hand with parking behind. Second Thursdays 7-9 p.m with Open Mike.

3. Spellbinders monthly meeting, Beaumont Public Library, Second Wednesday of Moth 10-111:30. Business meeting with some storytelling, Guests welcome.

4. OLLI Power of Story SIG If interest is sufficient, Paschal and Charlies will continue this OLLI Special Interest Group during the summer, probably once monthly.

C. State-wide and regional meetings. Annual Conferences

1. KSA conference, this year at Dale Hollow Park, No ember 4-5

2. Cave Run Stloryteling Festival, Morehead, Ky September 23-24

3. Jonesboro TN Storytelling Conference, October 3-5, 2011

D. National groups.

1. Spellbinders. Link

2. National Storytelling Network. Events calendar has regional meetings

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Chapter One. Ny Life and the Power of Story: an interactive journey,

Context for the book
follows Intrroductionv. 10.0

Chapter One.
My Life and the Power of story:
An Interactive Journey

In this chapter, I explain how my life journey and life decisions
have been shaped by story and storytelling.

Those who are signed up for my OLLI
SIG should email me to receive this file.
It is no longer posted publicly.