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Article published Mar 30, 2013
‘The old stories are alive’: Traditional ‘Trickster Tales’ to be told April Fool’s night
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — The Trickster will slip out to play this Monday night.

That’s a promise from storyteller Brian Rohr: In the voices of four humans, those masters of creative chaos — Coyote, Raven, Mink and companions — will whisk listeners off to another plane.

Rohr is host of the fifth annual Trickster Tales, yet he will not predict what the featured tale-spinners will do. What he does know is that the four tellers will gather at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April Fool’s Day, at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave.

Trickster Tales admission is a suggested donation of $12 to $25 to benefit the Boiler Room, Port Townsend’s nonprofit youth-run coffee house.

This year’s event has Johnny Moses of the Tulalip tribe; Harvest Moon, a Quinault tribal ambassador; Daniel Deardorff of the Mythsinger Foundation of Port Townsend and Rohr himself poised to tell stories — in English with tribal languages, sign language and drumming stirred in. The evening is open to all ages, Rohr noted, though the Trickster Tales stories of past years have contained some salty language and themes.

“We’ll be coming together as a whole community to really listen to these old stories,” Rohr said.

To truly hear these tales, he added, is to let go of the rational and the mundane. The tellers take people into the world of the imagination, of emotion and of the ancient oral tradition.

“This is how people entertained,” Rohr said, “for hundreds of thousands of years.”

Trickster Tales is a full, two-and-a-half-hour immersion, he added.

“I love movies and TV. Don’t get me wrong. But this is an opportunity to go deeper . . . [into] our indigenous souls.”

Rohr offered some history on each Trickster Tales artist:

■ Johnny Moses, whose traditional name is Whis.stem.men.knee — Walking Medicine Robe — is one of the most popular storytellers in North America, Rohr said. He has offered traditional and contemporary stories from California to New York City, where he appeared at Lincoln Center. He shares each story in English, traditional sign language and one of the eight Native American languages he speaks.

■ Daniel Deardorff is a “singer” in the old sense of that word: a musician, storyteller, poet and maker of ritual. A longtime Port Townsender, he is the founder of the Mythsinger Foundation and the Mythsinger Consortium, an online community at www.Mythsinger.net.

■ Harvest Moon is a Quinault ambassador, historian, basket weaver and storyteller whose name means “a light shining forth in the midst of darkness.” She has been telling stories over half her lifetime and has received the Peace and Friendship Award from the Washington State Historical Society in recognition of her contributions to the understanding of Northwest tribal heritage.

■ Rohr, for his part, said he’ll slip in a story while hosting Trickster Tales. He’s the originator of the event to benefit the Boiler Room, as well as host of the First Friday Storynights at Better Living through Coffee. These evenings traditionally have a featured storyteller as well as an open-mic section.

Rohr noted that the Boiler Room, established 20 years ago, is believed to be the oldest continuously operating youth-run coffee house in the United States. The place at 711 Tyler St. is a venue for music, art and theater and a free soup kitchen for all ages.

It is also a place for sharing stories, including the traditional ones.

“The old stories are alive,” Rohr said, “ and can inform us on how to live our lives as authentic human beings.”

For more on Trickster Tales and other storytelling events in Port Townsend, visit www.BrianRohr.com or phone 360-531-2535.

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