Professional storyteller Naomi Steinberg comes to the Sechelt Arts Centre Thursday, Dec. 10 with her latest offering, Goose Feather. Steinberg travelled to France to interview her grandfather because she wanted to know, among other things, how her grandfather, a French national, had helped her grandmother, who was Jewish, survive the Second World War. She premiered the work at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September 2014 and has been carrying it around the globe ever since.
Which is how Steinberg thinks of it—as carrying a story that needs telling. The themes that emerged while she was writing the piece had to do with how we measure things and the road maps we create as we live our lives. “Why don’t I actually go around the planet, cross longitudes, cross latitudes, carry my own prime meridian, see what that means to make a roadmap in that way,” she says. “It was important, conceptually, for me to think of this as going around the planet carrying a story rather than being an artist who is on tour.” After her run at the Fringe, she carried the story down to L.A., hopped a cargo ship to Australia, made her way to New Caledonia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Russia (where she premiered the work in French), Norway, France, Switzerland, New York, Montreal, and back to Canada’s West Coast.
Her stop in France meant performing the work for family and friends who had known her grandparents. “I was very aware of who was in the audience,” she says. “Afterward a cousin told me it brought back good memories. It was really moving.” Telling stories for 14 years has given Steinberg an affinity for finding and performing stories that inspire courage. “If someone hears of an average person doing an act which is simple yet life-saving, perhaps they will be more likely to take a risk themselves,” she says, noting that her grandfather didn’t think of himself as a hero.
For the performance, Steinberg wears a corset made of her grandfather’s neck ties and mixes together storytelling, movement, and clowning. She promises to “Take us away on a story. Take a magic carpet ride with your imagination.”
Goose Feather, by Naomi Steinberg, for one night only on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7:30pm at the Sechelt Arts Centre, 5714 Medusa Street. Tickets $10-$20 sliding scale available at the door. Local performer David Roche emcees. See goosefeather.ca for more information.