Storytelling

Storytelling opens avenues for conveying a message, awakening the imagination, and communicating thoughts and feelings that we otherwise have no way to express. Through performance and recordings, Storysmith® Susan Marie Frontczak brings literature and history to life, creates stories from thin air, and hones personal experience into tales worth telling again and again.

Sample programs are described here, however you are also welcome to inquire about custom programs.

  • Repertoire for Children
  • Repertoire for Adults
  • Programs for Business

For Elementary School Audiences

The Human Spirit Around the World

Tales from all corners of the globe. Sample the colorful textures and shades of various cultures, while celebrating what we all, as humans, hold in common. Three programs available: A Multi-Cultural Feast, Trickster Tales, and Getting Along.

 

Literature Live!Literature: Live!

From classic stories by Rudyard Kipling, A.A. Milne, and Hans Christian Anderson to contemporary masterpieces by such authors as Jane Yolen, Janet Stevens and Ann Hayes, a collection of well crafted characters, plots, and adventures is selected for the age group at hand. Treat your students to the best a writer can offer, brought to life.

 

Let’s Build a Story

Using improvisational theater techniques, Susan Marie guides the audience to create and develop characters, setting, conflict, and plot right before their eyes. In essence, we all become authors on the spot - and learn in the process how to create a complete story from our own imagination. (Even more powerful when combined with Susan Marie’s classroom workshops in Creative Writing and/or Improvisational Acting.)

 

Stories of Eastern EuropeStories of Eastern Europe

Dressed in national Polish costume, from headdress to shoes, Susan Marie tells Polish, Ukrainian, Estonian, Czech, and Russian folk tales. She shows examples of and explains local crafts including embroidery, paper cutting, and engraved wooden plates.

 

Children in Colonial America

Find out what it would have been like to grow up in the American colonies before and during the Revolutionary War. Learn about children’s typical household chores. Hear the true adventures of an eight year old boy who was kidnapped and forced to become an indentured servant, and a pair of young girls who scared away a fleet of British soldiers.

 

Celtic Tales

Dressed in Scottish costume (either highland kilt, lowland aboyne), Susan Marie tells legends and folk tales of Scotland and Ireland. As a finale, she demonstrates a highland fling or Scottish step dance. Optionally she can teach a simple highland fling.

 

 

A Trip at SeaA Trip At Sea

Climb aboard to enjoy an hour of whales, waves and wonderment. Help Susan Marie act out the befuddled bumbling of a shipwrecked sailor. Learn the meaning of navigation, phosphorescence, mammal, and hurricane. Laugh at the antics of a hungry but hapless whale (Rudyard Kipling). You’ll feel you’ve been on the ocean by the end of this program of salty sea stories.

 

Engineering through Stories

Engineering means applying science to helping people. Each of the stories in this program conveys one or more engineering principles through a medium accessible to elementary school students. The stories illustrate concepts such as experimentation, infinity, mechanical pulleys, and air pressure. We also touch on the meaning of time management and technical communication skills. Susan worked for 14 years as an engineer prior to embarking on full time storytelling.

 

How Math Can Save Your LifeHow Math can Save Your Life

Adeptly wielding several basic math concepts spells the difference between triumph and disaster in this folktale romp though concepts such as abstraction, counting by intervals, multiplication and division, estimation, and exponential growth. You help solve the problems along the way!

 

A Visit to King Arthur’s Court

What might you see and hear if you could visit King Arthur’s court? How would it be different from the life you live today? Hear stories from the perspective of a page in the court of Camelot. Learn about everyday life in his era of chivalry and magic.

 

Finding the Fun in a StoryFinding the Fun in a Story

A behind-the-scenes look at how to make a story come to life on stage. Children come out of this performance with educated eyes and ears; they can appreciate and articulate what works in performance art: including use of body language, imagination, emotions, and the five senses.

 

Ghosts and Goblins

Experiencing, confronting, and conquering fear is the theme of these entertaining legends and adventures.

 

Here's for the Holidays!

Celebrate the gift of giving with tales of the season, drawing on Christmas, Hanukah, and Solstice traditions. Help a kid foil the schemes of the Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher, count the days of Hanukkah as the candles are lit, and find out how the Precious Herbs of Solstice conquer fear of the dark.

 

For Middle School and High School Audiences

Medieval Moments

Dressed as a medieval lady, Susan Marie shares insights to a time and place known as the Dark Ages. She opens singing a mesmerizing traditional ballad, Twa Sisters, which speaks of the jealousy and revenge that come of loving the same knight. Next she tells The Pied Piper, by Robert Browning, set in 1376 and based on evidence inscribed on the walls of some old houses in Hamelin, Germany about the sudden disappearance of 130 children. This tragic tale of a broken promise is an effective base for discussion of Justice. Finally we learn "what women most desire" in the chivalrous tale of Sir Gawain and the Lady Ragnell.

 

Stories to Chill Your BonesStories To Chill Your Bones

Romantic nightmares, daring deeds, and eerie events - with a bit of ghostly humor thrown in for comic relief, this collection of literary escapades and historical chronicles awaken the imagination while lifting the hair on the back of your neck. Selections include The Tell-tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, The Legend of Bluebeard by Guy Wetmore Carryl, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, and many others.

 

19th Century AmericaFirsthand Accounts from the Nineteenth Century

How Rattlesnake Got His Name, by Larry Helburg. This mountain man’s yarn dares to pull your unsuspecting leg while placing the trapping/trading era into an accurate and memorable historical context.

Kentucky Belle, by Constance Fenimore Woolson. A young farm wife gives her account a terrifying experience during the Civil War and how she acted for humanity in the face of destruction.

What Stumped the Bluejays, by Mark Twain. Twain describes the antics of a misguided but determined blue jay through the eyes of a retired California miner.

 

Literature: Live!

A collection of well crafted characters, plots, and adventures is selected for the age group at hand. Authors on tap include Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickenson, Robert Browning, Robert Service, Don Marquis, Stephen Vincent Benet, Christina Rossetti, and others. Treat your students to the best a writer can offer, brought to life.

 

The Secrets behind Performance Art

A behind-the-scenes look at how to make a story come to life on stage. Students come out of this performance with educated eyes and ears; they can appreciate and articulate what works in performance art including use of body language, imagination, emotions, and the five senses. Teacher handout available for follow on exercises linking performance art with writing skills.

 

Respect Wins

Via a canny pairing between world wisdom tales and personal experiences, Susan Marie demonstrates how we all win when we treat one another with respect. Humorous and poignant, pithy and memorable, these stories stay with you for the time you need them most.

 

Women's Perspectives

The stories in this program depict courage, love, risks, challenges and heroism. The only twist is that the lead characters are all women. We, too, can fill these roles. Symbolic and mythic stories are woven together with personal accounts of Susan's 14-year career in engineering and management, her relationship with her sister, and other real-life anecdotes.

 

Stories to Chill Your Bones

A selection from Susan's extensive repertoire of bone-tingling tales. which could include: I Love My Love by Helen Adam, a romantic nightmare in which a young man discovers his bride - and her hair - have a life of their own;  Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, which deals with the peril of dealing with fairy folk, and the damage to health from partaking of fairy food; and The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. This first-person account of a murder portrays an oh-so-gradual decline from well-concealed derangement to true madness.

 

Stories on the Wing

For ages we have looked to the sky and taken inspiration from birds: their song, their flight, and occasionally their companionship. These stories explore our relationship with our feathered partners on this planet.

 

Stories of Music and Dance

From a raucous barn dance to a high society waltz, from the ancient harp to ragtime piano, bring your hearts to an evening of joy, pain, and love.

 

Firsthand Accounts from the Nineteenth Century

Three points of view from a hundred-plus years ago: A mountain man's tall tale; a farm wife's account a terrifying experience during the Civil War; and Mark Twain's portrait of a misguided but determined blue jay as seen through the eyes of a retired California miner.

 

Robert Service - Poet of the Common Man (and Woman)

In all his roles — as Bard of the Yukon, Bohemian in Paris, World War I ambulance driver, and World Traveler — Robert Service is the consummate observer of human nature. His verse tugs hearts and tickles ribs. He captures human foibles, humility, irony, and nobility - often in settings where you might least expect them. Learn of the man and revel in his rhyme.

 

Pets, Pets, Pets!

From familiar cats and dogs, to an eccentric parrot predicting the millennium, from mammal to bird to insect to reptile, experience the profound effect pets have on our lives and the thoughts they might be thinking as they do it.

Popular Programs

"The Power of Stories in the Workplace"
Making the most of metaphor in your life and work. 

"The Fun Side (and Funny Side) of Taking Initiative"
Fact and simile that inspire your people to achieve their personal and organizational best.

"The Customer is What?"
Stories for outwitting the competition, learning that the customer is always right, and surviving hard times.

"You Can't Change Me!"
Tales of transformation for weathering the turmoil of change.

"1001 Easy Steps to Managing Complexity"
Laugh and learn how, by hearing about how not to.

Or request a custom program on a topic of your choice.

What the Listeners Say

Corporations
Your expertise as a storyteller has earned rave reviews from our executive-level customers...I look forward to your next performance."
Kathleen A. Kilcoyne, Hewlett-Packard Company

Associations
"The response of the IABC membership to your presentation has been overwhelming. You have touched the child in each of us, as well as impressed this audience of communications professionals with your mastery of language."
Lynn Paustian, Colorado Program Director
International Association of Business Communicators

"Words cannot express how much everyone enjoyed your storytelling at the St. Francis of Assisi's Ladies Tea.  It is tough to get that group of chatty ladies to be quiet.  But when you told your story and captured their attention, you could hear a pin drop.  Major kudos!" 
Anne Marie Boyer

You have touched the child in each of us, as well as impressed this audience of communications professionals with your mastery of language
Lynn Paustian, Colorado Program Director
International Association of Business Communicators
Your expertise as a storyteller has earned rave reviews from our executive-level customers... I look forward to your next performance
Kathleen A. Kilcoyne
Hewlett-Packard Company
We were simply spellbound by the virtuosity of her voice and gesture, intellectual challenge and emotional involvement
Dr. Brad Bowles, Chair
Department of Theater, University of Colorado