Friday, May 01, 2009

Thank you, Jay O'Callahan

Back in 1984, I had the privilege of seeing one of the best storytellers in the world, Jay O'Callahan, perform at a theater in Boston.

I had been hired as the voiceover announcer for a radio commercial for his show. When the session was over, the producers offered me a couple of free tickets to his performance. Suzan and I attended, and were absolutely amazed at what we saw.

Jay told 4 stories in the course of the evening, and you could hear a pin drop during the entire performance. The only props he used were a box, a broom, and an apron. It was enthralling. The first thought that came to my mind as I listened and watched was,
"I wonder if that approach would work with Scripture."

I went home and began memorizing passages of Scripture, trying to apply to the Biblical text the technique I saw him use. I even called Jay up some time later to ask if I could take him to lunch and get some advice. He very graciously accepted. That was the beginning of The World's Greatest Stories.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to again see one of Jay O'Callahan's performances. He was the featured storyteller at the Connecticut Storytelling Festival held in New London, CT. I hadn't seen him in over 20 years, and I wanted to encourage him by letting him know how he had influenced my life. Once again, he was absolutely amazing!

Defeating Giants, the sixth volume of my CD set of The World's Greatest Stories recently received the 2009 Storytelling World "Honors" Resource Award for Storytelling Recordings. After Jay's performance last Friday evening, I went up to him, explained how he had made such a significant impression on my life, and gave him a copy of the CD. I then told him,
"This would never have existed if it had not been for you."

It was a joy meeting and talking to Jay again after so many years.

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