Thursday, July 30, 2015

Magical moments: serendipity-sfx and storytelling

Magical moments: serendipity-sfx and storytelling

By Norah Dooley

The tent outside Boston Children's Museum was shady and cool and a small breeze blew through on the 90 degree Tuesday in July. The tent is beyond the Milk Bottle and just past the entrance to the Museum.  It is a lovely spot and across Fort Point Channel one can see and easily reference the Boston Tea Party Museum ship as the kind of ship pirates sailed on. You also can see visitors learn about some per-Revolutionary rabble rousing and drop reusable boxes of "tea" over the sides, on the hour.

"The passengers saw a long boat leave the pirate ship and quickly close the distance between the ships. "
Appearing as Mary Read, an 18th century, English born, cross-dressing, woman pirate,  I was at the Children's Museum to represent Save The Harbor/ Save the Bay and tell stories about our beautiful harbor, the sea and the Golden Age of Piracy. At one point during my two hour stint, I told the story of Ocean Born Mary.  Below is an excerpt and here link to a full version of the story that is similar to the one I tell.

 Ocean-Born Mary A Classic Tale of haunted New England

    The year was 1720 and the place was Londonderry, Ireland. A small sailing vessel called “Wolf” departed from the port, bound for the New World. Here, weary passengers and immigrants would have the chance to reunite with relatives from another Londonderry, this one in New Hampshire. But fate was not kind to this travelers, for as they neared the harbor of Boston in Massachusetts Bay, on July 18th, 1720, the ship was overtaken by a band of Spanish pirates. They scrambled aboard the vessel, seized jewelry, clothing and valuables and then, at the command of their captain, a buccaneer named Don Pedro, they prepared to murder everyone on board. Just as the pirates raised cutlass and pistol, Don Pedro ordered his men to stand down.
Beyond the terrified screams of the passengers, he heard another sound... the unmistakable wail of a baby. Below decks, Elizabeth Wilson lay abed, holding a tiny baby in her arms. The child has been born the day before.  Don Pedro found her and looked down into the face of the infant and sheathed his sword. He said he would save the Wolf and all on it if they would name the child Mary after his mother. Elizabeth agreed. And Dom Pedro took a cup of water and baptized her right there. Then he strode above deck.

"Stand down and harm not a hair on any head." Dom Pedro roared at his crew. " "Stand down  Save your shot. Sheathe your swords. To the boats! " He ordered his men off the Wolf and back to their ship. They left and all on the Wolf breathed again and pulled themselves together, glad to be alive.  But all too soon there was a cry ," They are coming back! " The passengers saw a long boat leaving the pirate ship and as the oars flashed it quickly closed the distance between the ships.  Don Pedro appeared on deck again, this time with a large package that he gave to Captain Wilson, "Mary's" Father.  Unwrapped it  revealed a bolt of beautiful, sea-green, silver threaded,  brocaded silk. "For her wedding dress!" he said and turned on his heel and left...
As I came to the moment in the story where the pirates return, I pointed across Fort Point Channel and... a long boat magically appeared! You can't make this stuff up. Coming from the Boston Tea Party Ship, with oars flashing in the bright noon sunlight, I found I was pointing at and narrating the movements of an actual long boat heading straight for our side of the channel. It was an exact replica of the picture in my head. This sure made it easy to explain to my young audience what a long boat was. In my 25 years of storytelling, it was the best serendipity-sfx I have ever experienced.

Storytellers and performers! I wonder what serendipity-sfx you have experienced during live performance ? Doorbells, thunder, loud knocking or a cry in the distance? Please feel free to share some in the comments below.