of the neat things about the Wrights’ storytelling
technique is that they effortlessly blend Japanese terms
and onomatopoeic sound effects into the fabric of their
traditional tales, and not once does it alienate or seem
like scholarly affectation. Each tale begins on a cultural
note that may be unfamiliar to most, from language to unconventional
behavior of stock characters or unfamiliar social systems
of the generally rural Japanese setting. But the way a
listener can become so fully engaged within seconds is
a testament to the power of these tales and the skill of
Jonatha and Harold Wright, storytellers,
have been specializing in Ohio, Appalachian and Japanese stories
for the last several years. In addition to folk tales, fairy
tales, historical tales, myths and legends they have numerous
personal stories. Often they work in tandem, but both Jonatha
and Harold also tell solo. These they tell to a wide variety
of ages and audiences.
Harold has had a career as a professor
of Japanese at Antioch College and Ohio State University, and
is an award-winning translator of Japanese poetry, with several
books to his credit. The last fourteen years, he, along with
Jonatha, led and developed a semester of Field Work study for
college students through Antioch Education Abroad to Japan each
summer, at Kyoto Seika University. Each fall Jonatha coordinated
and they worked with Japanese students from Kyoto Seika who participated
in American Field Work studies at Antioch College in Yellow Springs,
OH. Always the Wrights have used these activities and contacts
to research and collect Japanese stories, often in the oral tradition,
continually looking for the richness of local flavor and dialect,
which Harold translates and they adapt. As they travel Ohio,
they continually collect local Ohio stories.
Their workshops include:
“From Oral Tradition to Written
"Love, Honor and Cherish that Story:
An Introduction to Storytelling"
"One Plus One Equals Two: Telling
"Our Stories Honor and Reveal Our
Heritage: Telling YOUR Stories"
"Creating Bridges: Cross-Cultural
"Prose, Rhythm and Rhyme: Using
Poetry to Spice Up Your Storytelling"
"The Oral Tradition in Japan"
The Wrights have taught storytelling
in many area colleges. They do workshops all over the US and
in Kyoto on storytelling techniques and skills. Professionally
they belong to the state storytelling groups of Kentucky and
Ohio (KSA and OOPS!), the National Storytelling Network, and
the Miami Valley Storytellers.