a youngster Diane
was steeped in the oral tradition. Her early childhood years in
Louisiana were spent on her grandparent's porch with the family
and neighbors swapping stories, lies, and tales. After moving to
California as an adolescent, Diane has fond memories of the annual
trek back to Louisiana with her family, where she recalls fishing
in the bayou, making hoecake bread, singing, and storytelling. Her
raconteur father would invariably lead the way with family news
and history. As she grew older, Diane played the piano and sang
in church choirs, performed in various stage productions, and became
proficient in American Sign Language, all of which contributed to
a completely unforeseen career in storytelling.
for this career was planted in 1980, after Diane and her husband
Tom adopted their second child. Four-year-old Joey was a boy who
had been raised in a series of foster homes in front of a TV set.
Diane soon realized that the nightly reading of stories that was
eagerly anticipated by her daughter Cicely was absolutely of no
interest to Joey. Committed to breaking him from TV and increasing
his readiness for school, Diane started to story read/tell in the
style for which she is so well known today, i.e., dynamic characterization
with animation, expression, and interaction. Some time later her
church was giving a Christmas party for foster and homeless kids
and Diane was program committee chair. She told some Christmas stories
and lo and behold, a career was born. She started to receive requests
to tell at parties, schools, and libraries. Eventually she had to
choose between her office job of seventeen years and the ever-increasing
requests to tell stories. She decided that the opportunity to make
a living at something that one loves and finds so rewarding was
definitely worth the risk. Happily she has never looked back.
has wowed audiences across the globe from Graz, Austria, to Auckland,
New Zealand. She has toured and performed internationally many times
over, including Holland, France, Bermuda, Sweden, Canada, Australia,
Singapore, and Malaysia.
Diane has visited almost every state in the U.S., including Hawaii
and Alaska, to perform at major festivals, theaters, conferences,
universities, schools, libraries, senior centers, detention facilities,
churches---you name it. Providing workshops for other tellers, ministers,
and teachers, as well as serving as keynote speaker/storyteller
at professional conferences and conventions has become a rewarding
part of her work. Diane continues to focus on schools and libraries
as much as possible however, because she believes this is where
the tradition of storytelling is to be nurtured and the lessons
of the stories most need to be heard. In fact, she was honored to
be featured in Language of Literature, McDougal Littell's
latest textbook series for middle school grades.
continues to be very busy, but now that her children are grown,
(at least they think so), she hopes to find some time to do more
recording and perhaps publish a book or two.
I would like to express my gratitude to all
the great storytelling fans who attended the benefit concert for the
victims of Hurricane Katrina, and who donated over $2000 for that
cause. I would especially like to thank my wonderful storytelling
friends Gay Ducey & Nancy Wang, whose storytelling & commitment made
the benefit such a success.
like to extend my appreciation to the National Storytelling
Network for the fine work they have done over the years to preserve
and promote the ancient art of storytelling and storytellers. Link
below for further information about storytelling and the NSN.
I would also like to congratulate the Bread &
Roses organization. The Bread & Roses mission is to uplift the human
spirit by providing free, live, high-quality entertainment to those
who are institutionalized or isolated. Since their founding
they have produced over 10,000 performances for more than 300,000
individuals of all ages and ethnic groups. Every year they
produce more than 500 shows in over 100 facilities. More than
once a day, on average, a Bread & Roses show is creating joy
somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.
also like to thank the entire storytelling community for your
generosity & prayers in support of our friend and inspiration,
Master Storyteller Jackie Torrence, who passed away November 30,
2004. She will always remain a model for the rest of us to aspire
to. Diane Ferlatte