FAIR WARNING: If Sūn Wùkōng (孫悟空) ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy. Not even the Jade Emperor, or even Buddha.
And now that you know this, boys and girls, it’s time to put some Monkey Business on your iPod® or Pono. Because neither it or you can have too much Monkey Business.
Actually, here’s what you’re in for, from our programme notes:
In the first eight chapters of the epic… we meet Monkey, having been birthed out of a 356–foot round stone. After establishing a “paradise” of sorts for him and his fellow primates, Monkey sets out on a personal quest to learn how to achieve immortality. In the time that follows, he masters the skills of cloud somersaulting and transformation, and his name becomes Sūn Wùkōng (孫悟空) (Sūn, the family name, meaning monkey and Wùkōng, his given name, meaning “awake to emptiness”). He will soon come to possess a Compliance Rod, or Rúyì Jīngū Bàng (如意金箍棒), a weapon that can grow or shrink at will. He will obtain a new title: Great Sage Equal to Heaven, or Qítiān Dàshèng (齊天大聖). Finally — in a shocking fit of greed and gluttony — he will finally possess an impenetrable body. His rebellion against the Jade Emperor and his heavenly host, however, will be short–lived when Buddha is summoned to intervene.
But Sūn Wùkōng’s story, as the balance of Journey to the West will show, is far from over.
This is the first of two planned MP3 albums, that, when taken together, will give you an idea of what Diane Wolkstein had in mind with her adaptation of the famous Chinese Monkey King Epic.
Get in on the ground floor now (320kbps VBR stereo, 131.7MB).
P.S.: Jeff Greene of TriBeCaStan provided the music for Mme. Wolkstein’s retelling. If you enjoy what you hear, please show your love by supporting his music label (also on Bandcamp). He will appreciate it, and so will we.
Come celebrate Diana with us
Today we want to share a special e–mail message from Rachel Zucker — the daughter of our belovéd friend, the late storyteller Diane Wolkstein — about an upcoming story hour in New York’s Central Park that will celebrate Diana’s memory:
I hope this e–mail finds you well.
Many of you have asked how you might help honor Diane Wolkstein’s memory and celebrate her legacy. After long months of thinking over what my mother would have wanted, I’ve come up with an idea for what I hope will be an annual event honoring Diane Wolkstein and her stories.
In addition to writing books for children and adults, telling stories, and teaching storytelling all over the world, Diane Wolkstein told stories at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park and directed the series there for many years.
Diane died suddenly on January 31, 2013. Last summer was the first summer in over 40 years that she did not tell stories at the statue.
Last September, several wonderful storytellers came together at the statue to tell stories that Diana (as she liked to be called) wrote or told — her signature stories — as a way of celebrating her life and honoring the extraordinary contribution she made to the world of story. It was a joyous and moving event.
I’m so pleased that Laura Simms, the current director of the storytelling series, and the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center have agreed to set aside one Saturday in September for an annual storytelling celebration of Diana and her stories.
Diana cared deeply that great storytelling be offered, free, in Central Park, to anyone who wanted to come. Diana spent hundreds of hours telling stories there and fighting to protect the series.
Please consider donating whatever small or large amount you’d like in order to make this an annual event. The Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center is approved (for Federal tax purposes) as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation and donations are tax deductible. The directors, officers and other volunteers contribute their free time to support the HCA Storytelling Center. You can donate money via PayPal or credit card online or you can write a check and send it directly to:
Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center, Inc.
Attention: Anne–Mette Andersen, President
c/o Holland & Knight LLP
31 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Please make note (either on the check or in your online donation) that these funds are for the Diane Wolkstein Storytelling Celebration. All funds collected that are marked in this way will be set aside specifically for this annual event.
And, of course, you are all invited to attend! This year the Diane Wolkstein Storytelling Celebration will be September 13, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Hans Christian Andersen Statue in Central Park (near 72nd Street and 5th Avenue).
If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to e–mail me.
Thank you so much for helping me honor my mother and her stories in this way.
Rachel Zucker, daughter of Diane Wolkstein.
We will be there, camera in tow. Please come, too.
[UPDATE 2014.08.24: Diana’s website is back online — with a temporary page while we prepare to rebuild the site with a fresh WordPress install.]
Image courtesy of Rosegarden Media & Entertainment.
Only the film is for sale, not the girls
We’ve always had a fondness for alternative Indian cinema — not to mention good friends over at FilmKaravan (currently without an official website), so we are going to bat for them and inviting you to be part of their latest project.
To take the plunge: 34 days are left to get yourself a funding piece of Leeches. Not a horror film — and certainly not about the creepy creatures suggested by the title — this is instead a simple story about a sixteen-year-old Hyderabad girl who hatches an unlikely plot to save her younger sister from being sold into marriage for a day. (Sadly, contract marriages, as they are called, are an all too common example of the sex trade in that region.)
Writer–director Payal Sethi is hoping to raise Rs. 6 Lakhs (USD $10,000) by Thursday 14 August — or they will have to start the funding process all over again. (And yes, WishBerry is very much like Kickstarter — an “all or nothing” proposition.)
With women filmmakers still very much treated like a burden in show biz, we urge those with spare change to give what they can (even Rs.1,000, or USD $17 gets you a digital download of the finished film, so the rewards are good).
Although they are based in India, WishBerry will allow and does welcome contributors from other countries (just make sure you have a valid credit or debit card, and don’t pledge beyond your financial constraints).
Leeches is a story worth telling. Our own Philip David Morgan is among the pledgers, so do jump in and push this short past the finish line.
[UPDATE 2014.07.18: The cameras will roll — Leeches has been 100% funded. FilmKaravan will now look to raise as much as possible for post–production. The campaign will remain open until 14 August, so you still have time to give what you can.]
[UPDATE 2014.08.14: The campaign is done. Let the cameras roll.]
Our ten Rs
In my early school years, I knew what the “three R’s” in U.S. education meant: reading, writing, and arithmetic. (Never mind that the spelling wasn’t exactly what I’d call accurate.)
This summer, I have not three Rs, but ten:
reading and writing to relearn Spanish,
rest and relaxation (those who served in the U.S. military will understand),
recovery and reflection on what has gone right rather than wrong,
retooling the Rosegarden website,
and remembering Diane Wolkstein by remastering our audio/video archives a little at a time.
That should be sufficient not just for a full Summer, but also for a good balance of the year.
Yes, we will continue to comb and revise the Diane Wolkstein website. We should add that the site now accepts PayPal for all book and audio/video orders. so you should have no problem buying that Inanna DVD–R or picture book you’ve been wanting to buy for that special someone (maybe you?).
The biggest change to the Rosegarden website will be deep–sixing the use of a “general” blog, as we already have a Tumblr page (and a Blogger account) for that purpose. When the work is done, our home–page will show our productions up front (and nothing beyond that).
So while we may be absent from the streets of New York City and the footpaths of Central Park, there’s no doubt that our summer will be sufficiently packed.
And we hope that yours will be, too.
Philip David Morgan.
Splitting the series
A short note this time, because of the usual juggling of my rôles as video producer, supermarket checkout clerk, assistant housekeeper on behalf of two retired parents, and webmaster for the late Diane Wolkstein (I will stay on as webmaster for the storyteller’s daughter, Rachel Zucker, who is now the keeper of her mother’s incredible legacy).
To this you can now add the title of “remedial Spanish student.” That’s right, I am returning to the language I studied when I was a junior high school / high school / community college / university student — and which, thanks to what became the New York / New Jersey affiliates of Univisión and Comcast–owned Telemundo, was the first foreign language I was able to grasp while growing up.
For those wondering, my deficit areas are: verb tenses, finer grammatical points, vocabulary, and — I wish we covered this in junior high — idioms. As in, the sort of Spanish you hear and speak on the street as opposed to the classroom.
(Just for the record, I am not abandoning Esperanto. On the contrary, it stays with me, because it still helps remind me how word and sentence structure work. Moreover, those who study Esperanto are far better prepared when they decide to tackle another language.)
As for Just One Story…: I’ve decided that it deserves a better title. This summer, it will be re–named Do Tell! (That title change alone should put some much needed kick into the show.) It will also be losing the Diane Wolkstein episodes — only because I want to put my late friend’s work into its own separate showcase, honoring her memory and her legacy.
The re–titling will begin in June — partially because I won’t be able to afford a lot of trips to Central Park this summer. And I am still waiting for the 2014 storytelling schedule, so I can decide which dates we will settle on. That schedule still has not been made public, so I am still hanging.
Lately, I’ve been replaying Xenon Pictures’ DVD edition of Perry Henzell’s 1972 cult feature The Harder They Come (in no small part because his tale about a Jamaican “rude boy” who straddles the fused career of famous singer and infamous criminal keeps me hooked). The Region 1 DVD came bundled with Universal–Island’s soundtrack CD, and lately the Jimmy Cliff tracking “Sitting in Limbo” has been haunting my sleep. Given what’s up in the air for my summer, you might understand. And not just from the song’s title, mind you.
We are still moving through our archives of Diane Wolkstein recordings — the earliest ones date back to 1998 and were made on a Sony MiniDisc recorder(!) — and this time around we offer one of her many audience favorites: Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Most Incredible Thing of All” (1870), the story of a contest that promises the Princess’ hand in marriage to whoever can impress the judges the most (and the one who clearly rises to the challenge).
That should be all we need to say, except that we have included a little surprise to go along with this Storytelling Library release — hence the size of this particular download.
As you will see in the accompanying booklet, producer Philip David Morgan has a special fondness for this particular Andersen story and the way Mme. Wolkstein told it, especially in the way she actively engaged the Central Park audience. All you need do is hear for yourself.
(N.B.: We do have another 2010 recording coming, that of four stories from Mme. Wolkstein’s book The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales. That album will be coming once we have heard from the guest artistes whose voices were captured by our camera and microphone. Thank you for your patience.)
We’re putting the word out on behalf of Marina Verenikina — or as her fans know her, Marina V — who is now using Patreon to finance her next recordings. Unlike other better known “talents” (start naming names), Ms. Verenikina’s muse is about, as she says, "finding strength and being brave enough to be yourself."
With the music industry very much in freefall (especially after the breakup and sale of everything EMI last year), it now matters all the more to support the musicians you say you love. Start here, and start now.
One minor tweak to our homepage.
Well, let’s face it: documenting storytelling is the one thing we’re especially known for doing.
Voilà! And we have a new look. See it for yourself.