Friday, January 1, 2010

Story of a Storyteller (Cathryn Fairlee) and A Musician (Stephen Pryputniewicz)

Since the birth of my children, my father Stephen Pryputniewicz has cared for my children one day each week so I may pursue my writing (and wife Robyn as well, once she joined our family). I maintain this blog and write due to the blessing of their time. I wanted to start 2010 by thanking them—and writing about Stephen’s upcoming performance.

Currently a keyboard accompianist for The Hot Curtain Revue (a West County Comedy Improvisation Group active for the last thirty years comprised of founding members Scott and Darlene Kersnar, members Susan Packer, Frank Ferris, Steve Page, Michelle Jensen, and light techs Mike and Waits Taylor), Stephen performs next (piano, guitar, drum) with storyteller Cathryn Fairlee on January 23rd at Guerneville Community Church from 7-9 p.m.

How did you become involved with Cathryn’s work?

I first met Cathryn when I played at her wedding years ago. Last summer Cathryn showed up at a house concert and we spoke of Patrick Ball's storytelling punctuated by harp music. Soon after, Cathryn saw a Hot Curtain Revue performance and suggested we collaborate. Cathryn is part of a storytelling association and has traveled to many countries (including China, Guatemala, Ireland, Bali, Mexico, Turkey) but wanted to bring her work to a West County performance.

How would you describe her work?

Cathryn tells traditional stories from all around the world often including songs.

What draws you to her work?

I love storytelling in general, and Cathryn's is very theatrical. I especially like her use of distinct voices for various characters.

How did you choose the music to go with the work?

We started with a survey of music I already can play, and a handful of Cathryn's stories...kind of a synergistic jam session. Hard to describe: you had to be there. There are a few stories where I play an entire piece that sets the tone, some stories have little sprinkles of music throughout and other stories have music at the beginning and the end.

What have you learned by working with storytelling—how is it different, for example, than working with River Repertory Theater (a former West County Theater Company)?

I have learned to be flexible, and to listen carefully. It is similar to working with theater: knowing the story well enough to anticipate the music cues. However, storytelling is not scripted like a play. The story is memorized, but not verbatim. So the words that cue a piece of music may vary from telling to telling.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a piano player for improv theater?

Making the music loud enough for the actors to hear, while still being able to hear the actors! Having dozens of musical snippets at the ready for any mood.

How about challenges of playing music as a background to storytelling?

Rebuilding my guitar finger calluses after years of no guitar playing.

Any other upcoming performances where people can hear your playing?

To be announced: a performance by the Hot Curtain Revue, likely this spring.

To find out more about Hot Curtain Revue or upcoming performances with Cathryn:
contact Stephen Pryputniewicz at:

or Cathryn Fairlee at:

Performance location: Guerneville Community Church, 14520 Armstrong Woods Rd.
Reservations by the 20th: $10; Tickets at the Door: $12. 707-433-2297

Lively Q and A to follow.

Watch for an article forthcoming in January by Cathryn Fairlee regarding this performance in The West County Gazette.

For more information on Patrick Ball (Theater of Legend-Celtic Harp and Spoken Word):

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