This past Monday I went over to the Verdi Club to see "Don't Call Me Retard," one of Arline Klatte and Beth Lisick's monthly storytelling series - this one benefitting Creativity Explored. The storytellers were teachers and students at the Mission art studio that serves artists with developmental disabilities. Or, as one of the speakers described the place, "a safe haven for the vulnerable."
The joy, awe and inspiration was almost more than that little old dance hall could contain. The program alternated solo standup stories with interviews, and video presentations. There was a common thread between all of the presentations, by teachers and students alike, and it was the pleasurable surprise and wonder that occurs when creativity is nurtured, witnessed, and appreciated.
Thomas Pringle is an entertaining fabulist who regaled us with his stories of catching a Great White Shark in San Francisco Bay and becoming the youngest professional baseball player at the age of two.
Whitman Donaldson read from his graphic novel about his experiences living with Prader-Willi syndrome and told another story that involved mythic cupcakes and mother love.
When the video presentations developed technical glitches, Klatte and Lisick did impromptu dances.
The videos used images and recordings of student work to tell stories that were impractical for the stage. One of the most powerful was by Than Diep. She illustrated a story about her early life, accompanied by the keening sound of her natural voice and the mechanical voice of her communication device. I don't think I'll ever forget it. I wish you could see it. But check out this short video of Than Diep in the studio.