Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Daughters of Fable

Myths, legends, fairy tales, in fact any sort of narration would fall under the "fable category", as the word originates in the Latin "fabula" ("story") and that in turn from "fari" ("to speak"). However, through centuries of mutations, unfathomable linguistic mechanisms and that wild factor known as "the human condition", what we call fable today is a fictional story (whether based on long forgotten facts or not), handed down for centuries through oral tradition until it reached our day, passing through Gutenberg' s era to be, finally, widely recorded on and transmitted through paper.

We like fables: one could even argue that, before we are exposed to the rigors and cynicism of our world, we are genetically predisposed to like them. We like to be put to sleep by a gentle voice recounting tales of kingdoms, oh so far away and be convinced to eat in order to grow strong like those we see as our mythic counterparts. Fables, though they may change form, medium (is it pure coincidence that the game "Fable" has been one of the most successful games to be produced in recent years?) and their apparent popularity may also seem to fluctuate, but at the end of the day, a fable properly prepared and presented will always win our hearts, much like Bill Willingham's "Fables" (in my opinion the only ever worthy rival of Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman").

Yes, we like, we love fables and make no mistake: some love them even to the point of actively trying to preserve the tradition of oral storytelling, reminding us why Aesop and Homer ended up being taught in schools. Three such people are the Daughters of Fable of this post's title, a.k.a. Vassilia Vaxevani, Antonia Velliou and Iphigenia Kakridoni (actually, if I have understood the meaning of their ensemble's name, "Talespinners" may have been a more appropriate translation in the cultural context, but I elected to use the other one all the same, as I am a great fan of puns).

I first met Vassilia as the newest member of Comicdom.gr, when I returned from one of my prolonged cases of Houdini Syndrome. During the course of several discussions, she mentioned that "she was attending lessons and was working on her thesis", when she had already told me she was a teacher. Turns out, she has been attending the "Narration School" of the Center for Study and Propagation of Myths and Fables! I was dumbstruck. There was such a thing?! Not only is there such a thing, but they are holding a Narration Festival around "Magic and the Supernatural World" in Athens, from the 18th to the 20th of December 2009, at the Traditional Greek Art Museum. Make sure to check it out!

Back to the main subject, Vassilia invited me to one of the Storytelling Nights of the Daughters of Fable, titled "The Wiles of Men and Women" (at Makari Music Scene - 125, Zoodohou Pigis St., Exarheia, Athens), featuring fables from Arabia, Russia, Africa, Spain (I think) and perhaps a couple whose origin I cannot deduce. Not only did the three young women have very different styles (by strictly personal judgment, I have dubbed Antonia the "Dark Spinner", Iphigenia the "Rosy Romantic" and Vassilia the "Daydreamer" - although you must bear in mind that this was after watching them only once), but during the African tale of the Lioness and the Turtle they incorporated members of the audience as the key characters of the story.

All in all, it was a very entertaining and fun 2 hours, which unearthed this warm and fuzzy feeling inside me, reminding me of summers long ago, when we would gather around a beach fire and talk of Todd the Gray, or in a small room with a hookah and tell the tale of Weasel's triumphs and laments...

Keep dreaming,


P.S. I took two pictures of the Daughters that night and although they seemed OK on the camera's miniscule screen, it turned out that in full size they were a blurry mess... Someone's lens needs some serious cleaning, pronto!

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