Saturday, October 22 , 2016, 4:58 pm | Fair 66º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube

Speaking of Stories Tells Tales from the ‘Hood in Performances Sunday and Monday

The performance organization, Speaking Of Stories, will offer a new set of live actors telling stories to a live audience Sunday and Monday at Center Stage Theater. The set, called “Stories From The Neighborhood,” will feature Dan Gunther reading “Dave and the Dentist” by Canadian humorist Stuart McClean; Robert Lesser reading “Your Lover Just Called” by John Updike; Anne Torsiglieri reading “The Occasional Garden” by Saki; and Susan Keller reading “Bridge” by Nancy Huddleston Packer.

Just about the only thing these four stories all have in common is that they were all (beautifully) written, before they were spoken out loud. The authors come from Canada (McLean), Pennsylvania (Updike), Burma (Hector Hugh Munro, a.k.a. “Saki”), and Alabama (Packer). Munro was killed on the Western Front, by a sniper, in 1916. Updike died four years ago. McLean and Packer are still with us, fortunately, and McLean — often dscribed as a “story-telling comic” — still has his popular weekly radio show, The Vinyl Cafe running on CBC, while he has frequently taken the show on tour of Canada and the United States, rather in the manner of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion. He has published many books, most recently several collections of the stories he tells on The Vinyl Cafe.

Packer, who earned an MA in Theology from the University of Chicago, married (1958) a Stanford University law professor and moved to Palo Alto. She had already published several stories by then, and immediately began taking creative writing courses at Stanford, took to teaching them, and joined the English faculty there in 1968, retiring in 1993. Despite the Chicago and Palo Alto connections, she remains a Southern writer to the core.

Munro (1870-1916) is easily the most exotic of these authors. He was born in Burma, the son of a rear admiral’s daughter and the inspector-general for the Burmese police (Burma being then still part of the British Empire). After a hitch in the Burma police — like George Orwell, a generation later — Munro became a newspaper correspondent, short-story writer and playwright. The Wikipedia assessment of him — “He is considered a master of the short story and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. Influenced by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, he himself influenced A.A. Milne, Noël Coward and P.G. Wodehouse.” — doesn’t suggest the depths of his uniqueness as a writer.

Munro more or less invented his own genre of story, which died with him. His stories are amusing rather than hilarious, with the laughter coming out more as a gasp than a hee-haw, and there are often passages that are truly horrifying, as Flannery O’Connor could be truly horrifying, without losing the humorous tone. In 1977, the Welsh actor and author, Emlyn Williams, toured with a one-man-show of 16 Saki stories, told in the character of a composite of his most famous narrators, Reginald and Clovis. The show was called The Playboy of the Weekend World. “The Occasional Garden” was published in 1919, in a posthumous collection called The Toys of Peace.

“Stories From The Neighborhood” will be spoken at 2 p.m. Sunday and at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Center Stage Theater in Paseo Nuevo.

Admission is $25 general and $15 for students and military. Tickets are available at the door ir by phone at 805.963.0408, or click here to purchase tickets online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are his own.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >