Programs

Alton's performances and programs can be tailored made for your event. Here is a sampling of some of the programs he offers:

 

 

The Japanese-American Experience of WWII:

Explore what it was like for the Issei and the Nisei (first and second generation Japanese-Americans) in Hawaii and in the Continental US during WWII. These stories offer a glimpse into aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the Internment Camps, and the creation of the all Japanese-American 100th Battalion and 442 Regimental Combat Team. For its size and duration of service, the 442 RCT is the most highly decorated unit in the history of the US Military.

 

Hawaiian Legends

Listen to ancient Hawaiian legends brought to life and retold with reverence and passion. Hear true stories of growing up in the Islands, of local customs, and superstitions. Hear tales about aumakua (guardian spirits), menehune (faerie folk of the islands), heiaus (ancient Hawaiian temples), and kahunas (ancient Hawaiian priests). Feel the fire Pele’s (the goddess of the volcano) rage as she chases the ali’i (chiefs) who would dare cheat her in a holua sled race. Cheer the cleverness of Punia as he battles wits with the great mano (shark), Kaialeale, the King of Kohala Bay. Taste the flavor of the Sandwich Isles, smell the Plumeria blossoms, and dance in the Mists of Manoa. Experience what is it is like to live in Paradise through the eyes of “a local boy.”

 

Asian Folktales

Travel to far off Asia, making stops in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, and India just to name a few Ports of Call. Experience these diverse lands through their folktales, stories, and legends. Meet the mischievous Tanuki (badger) and his friend Usagi (rabbit), the pheasant who saved the Korean woodcutter, and the Great Dragon King of the Eastern Sea. These traditional tales are told with great respect and deep gratitude for all those who kept these stories alive from generation to generation.

 

Ghost Stories

Afraid of the dark? You will be after listening to ghostly tales from around the world. Stories range from benign Halloween tales for children to those that make adults uncomfortable to those that make even teenagers look over their shoulders into the shadows. Take a night in a haunted wax works, a faceless ghost, a strange midnight visitor, a dash of urban legends, and blend well with several true stories of the bizarre and unexplainable and you have the makings of perfectly frightful time.

 

 

Tales from the Old and Not So Old Hawaii

The Hawaiian Monarchy governed the island kingdom for almost a century and almost everyone who lives in Hawaii has some connection to the sugar cane or pineapple plantations.  Both the Monarchy and the Plantation Era shaped life in Hawaii.  Through extensive research and oral history interviews, hear how one man united all of the islands and how a Queen lost them to a group of businessmen and politicians.  Learn what it was like growing up in the Plantation Camps in the 1930’s and 40’s and how the attack on Pearl Harbor changed everything.  Experience the joys and pitfalls of growing up on an island in the middle of the Pacific in the 1960’s and 70’s through the eyes of a local boy.

Workshops

Family Storytelling

This workshop is designed for novice and beginning storytellers with a goal of becoming more comfortable with telling stories in a family setting and being able to pass on basic storytelling techniques to others. Topics include basic story structure, folk and fairy tales, and writing new material. Participants will also learn basic interview techniques for collecting family oral histories, conducting basic research, and writing personal stories. They will also learn different techniques of how to prepare for performance and practicing stories. We will touch upon how to use voice, gestures, and body language to embody and bring characters to life.

 

Storytelling Toolbox

This workshop is designed for novice and beginning storytellers with a goal of public performance. Participants will learn about basic story structure, oral histories, getting permissions, and writing new material. They will learn various techniques to practice stories and prepare for performance. Participants will be taught basic theater skills such as taking stage, connecting to the audience, and how to remain centered and focused while on stage. We will discuss various ways you can use your voice, gestures, and body language to embody characters, and bring them to life, and briefly go over Doug Lipmann's guidelines for giving and receiving feedback for group work, as well as for continuation of the process after the workshop. 

 

Ghost Stories & Other Scary Stuff!

Are you afraid of the dark?  Do you want to learn what are those things that go bump in the night?  In this workshop we will explore what makes a good ghost story.  What are the elements of terror?  Participants will learn the differences between telling scary stories to little kids, young children, teens, and adults.  We will talk about story structure with regards to jump tales, audience participation, the building of suspense, the use of humor to allow the tale to breath to increase the terror.  We will briefly go over some of the more common story archetypes such as the urban legend, the vanishing hitchhiker, and the cautionary tale.  We will examine ghost stories from different cultures, viewing them within their cultural context.  We will then explore how such stories need to be shaped when they are told outside of their cultural context.  Participants will learn where to look for odd and scary stories and how to find stories that fit them.  Many of the scariest stories are true stories of strange events which occurred to people we know or friends of friends.  We will discuss basic interview techniques for collecting strange stories, conducting basic research, and writing personal stories.   Participants are encourage to bring a short spooky story which they would like to tell.  We will briefly go over guidelines for giving and receiving feedback for group work.  Participants will then be given the opportunity to tell their short story in a small group, and give, and receive feedback. 

 

 

Presence, Intention & Living the Story

This workshop introduces the concepts of presence and intention in the context of storytelling. By becoming more present and understanding their intention in telling the story, tellers can begin to embody and breathe life into the stories they tell. A story is a co-creation that exists in that magical space between the teller and the audience. By living the story, tellers make it easier for their audiences to follow them into the mystery of the story and co-create their own reality of the tale.

 

 

Telling Difficult Stories:  

The Personal, the Emotional, and Speaking Your Truth

We all have stories which are difficult to tell.  Sometimes they are tragic, historical stories which need to be told.  Sometimes they are our own stories which cry out to be heard.  Sometimes they are stories in which we need to tell to speak our own truth of who we truly are.  In this workshop participants will begin to understand why the difficult story needs to be told, their connection to the story, and when the story is ready to be told.  Participants will begin to understand the need for personal process work and the issues around “processing from the stage.”

 

From the Page to the Stage:

Breathing Life into Characters and Making Stories Come Alive

 

You have found a great story in a book, but how do you translate a good story on the page into a great story in front of an audience?  What do you need to consider when translating the written word to the spoken word.  What can you do to breathe life into the characters to make them come alive?  Which scenes should be portrayed? How might they be used to add texture and mood to the piece?  How does perspective shift and emphasize different aspects of the story?  How do you balance the various elements so that they gel into a story drive, purpose, and meaning?  How to used audience reaction to refine the piece?  In this workshop we will discuss these questions and participants will be given tools to navigate the tricky transition from the written word to the spoken word.


Elements of Terror:

Creating and Performing Ghost Stories

 

Ever wonder why some people can tell really scary ghost stories and others not so much?  In this workshop we explore what are the elements of a ghost story and how do they mesh together to make for a really scary story.  We will chat about where to find material, some suggestions of how to handle culturally sensitive sacred stories, and your own motivations for telling these tales.  We will also talk about story structure and the idea of punctuated terror, techniques to increase or decrease the tension, and what you might do if you know you have gone too far.  We will also touch upon matching the right stories to the audience and setting expectations with the client.

Alton has led workshops around the country to groups of all types. A perfect fit for your next training, educational program or conference.

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