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~ S. Kuder
Everyone has a story. Today, I reflect upon and shape my own experiences and those of others into tellable tales to share the ongoing plight of women. I also pull from rich literary and folk traditions.
In my adventures, I've witnessed and experienced plights, blunders, abuses, and misgivings. I want my stories to reflect those tales of the everyday experiences of women.
My mission is to connect with listeners, to bring enlightenment through story, to forge understanding and empathy, and-- sometimes-- to offer a sheer diversion and good belly laugh for life's trials. I believe that we are our stories and that stories are our saving grace.
I also believe that the personal is the political. Stories are my pro-active means to make a difference.
Denise McCormack tells stories with and for a purpose and strives to make a difference by raising awareness and fostering encouragement, especially regarding women's issues. Whether they're personal, folk, fairy, or literary, she offers vantages of the multi-faceted historical and familial contexts that surround and shape them-- and strikes a nerve.
With a number of productions that allude to the human dynamic, including Love Stories, featured during Philadelphia Theater Week 2017 and the Philly Fringe 2018, as well as engagements at multiple venues and programs throughout the region, McCormack continues to cultivate works that resonate with the historically complex plight of women as have-nots in a patriarchally saturated society.
Currently, MYOB: Mind Your Own Body: Irreconcilable Differences and Other Tales is gearing up for production at The Rotunda in West Philadelphia. This one-woman show will offer true stories that are fashioned into the form of folklore and fable, alongside mildly adapted literary favorites The Story of an Hour and A Pair of Silk Stockings by pre-feminist author Kate Chopin and traditional folktales bearing a winsome Cinderella motif but straying far from the standard path to bring added depth to the female situation. Philamandre and The Black Bowl expose complex issues in a carnivalesque style of exposition and plot. While Philamandre delves into family dynamics, The Black Bowl is relays a cautionary tale of the perils of objectification as an inherent flaw in our human nature.
The personal stories are true and brief and the product of deep reflection on circumstances, people, and life choices that were often based on trust, rather than due diligence. They also shine a light on little things that have far reaching implications and triggered her call to action. These stories are important because they illustrate shared experience in a subversive culture that we are often blind to and can guide us to understanding and change.
There are other programs, too. Stories of aged heroes with hearts of youth and strong, wise women have a special place in McCormack's repertoire, as do creation tales, myths, and epics that speak of values and perseverance.
McCormack will be among the featured artists in the 2019 National Storytelling Network Summit Performers Showcase, and is the annual facilitator of the traditional NJ Festival Story Slam.
Among her affiliated roles are: NJ state liaison for the National Storytelling Network, co-chair of the NJ Jersey Storytelling Festival, and president of Patchwork: A Storytelling Guild, as well as member of the board of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild, and member of other various and related cultural and educational organizations.
You’ll see more of her work this summer at various New Jersey and Pennsylvania venues. Check out the events page.
McCormack’s mantra: There is a story for every time and purpose under heaven.
McCormack holds a B.A. in English and M.Ed. in TESOL: Language, Learning, and Literacy. She earned a 2014 Women's Achievement award by the National Association of Professional Women, was editor of Story Art magazine and chairman and facilitator of the AMK Short Story contest for many years, author of "Don't Let the Best Man Ruin Your Wedding" and several articles related to the art of storytelling, for which Bride magazine noted her as an expert in the field, and has presented various workshops on the importance and application of storytelling for communication, healing, and connection.
I like to do both and everything in between.
Stories are everything. They are powerful. They give meaning to life.
Even the composition of story, its elements, gives us a road map to live by. Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Vladimir Propp, and others have illuminated our role of hero in our own stories, but more than that, they have laid out our optional roles in the lives and stories of others.
Stories are our human marker. They enable us to experience empathy, to connect, to understand.
A storytelling performance has the power to hit a nerve, to inspire people to imagine, remember, feel, and connect.
Imagine a tale that recalls an experience.
Your mind lights up. You want to hear more. You want to ask questions. You want to tell your story. You do tell it. Others listen; they really listen. They recognize their own stories, too, and want to share their own versions of the tale.
That's what I love about story.