Jeff Gere - Haunted Hawaii & Shadow Puppets
Fringe 5 Questions by Carlynn Wolfe
Who should NOT hear your stories?
Well, I have two shows for two audiences: Haunted Hawaii is NOT for people who do not like spooky local true tales of the supernatural. And because many are based on a foundation of Hawaiian beliefs, gods, mana, I’d prefer people under 10 to stay home with a babysitter. Otherwise, come and get tingled. I’m bringing out some of my favorites from 30 years of collecting & telling, so hold on. It will get intense (which is the point, eh?)
The Shadow Puppets on Sunday afternoon are tamer thematically, though many are bizarre in other ways. I will show and tell some from the Arabian Nights, a Jewish folktale of King Solomon, and a new Hawaiian tale of the Spirit of the Forest, all using different forms of shadow puppetry. For this, I hope the audience will include kids. Everyone is welcome here.
What is the scariest thing that has happened to you in relation to these stories?
Telling spooky tales is frightening enough, though I love doing it, and do it quite a bit. Something about locals and spookies click- they have these stories in their life and they love sharing them too. One of the stories I will tell involves the time I saw a ghost while telling a story about a ghost. That was pretty eerie.
Where do you get these stories?
I am a ‘hunter & gatherer’ of stories. People just come up and tell me things. And the best of them stick to my tongue and I cannot help but tell them.
When you get chicken skin telling a story, do you shake it off and keep going? Or is that a warning?
I don’t get chicken skin telling spooky tales, although a few of them are sad and I generally have tears when I tell them, they move me so. But non-spooky tales can effect me like that too, and yes, I keep going. My obligation to the audience is to tell the tale, not ‘break down’.
Why are stories important?
Stories codify what is important for the teller, for the community, for the society. We pour into these little narratives our hopes, dreams, aspirations, highest hopes, deepest fears, what we believe, what we think is funny… they are the longest enduring legacy we have from our ancestors and the single most telling creative effort which makes us human. Yep. Stories. We live by them, trade them, beg for them, fight because of them.
Bonus – How do you sleep with all these stories in your head?
A story is like a friend: first you are introduced, then you hang out with some a bit, share time and run them around in your life, deepen and listen to them, and soon they are part of you. I know so many stories I don’t remember them all until somebody tells me something and they pop back up. I have about 4 hours of material I can do for you now, but others sleep in me for years until one day they come back, like a high school friend, or an early date, and you share time again. The ones that I love to tell are still opening up to me after 30 years- it’s true. It is a marvel to me to say it too- storytelling is a life-long effort, and I am constantly aware of how much I still have to learn. In the last few years, I’ve traveled to tell in India, China, Thailand and Romania -each has a completely different set of epics and folktales, and bardic traditions that make me feel like a beginner. Still, at the root, it is about painting images with your tongue inside the imagination of the listener. It is great fun. And it is a hilariously holy occupation for me.