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Denise Markhame

Denise Markhame

Denise Markhame         English

From the ridiculous to the sublime…

I am a veteran bilingual teller of Franco-Ontarian heritage, drawing from my dramatic arts and music education to breathe life into a repertoire rich with mystic myth and legend, and kooky comical folktales served up with a generous salting of French Canadian humour, and highlights of music to taste.

Known as a ‘kid magnet’, I also have a particular affinity with women’s groups, a mutual adoration with the senior generation, and favour the intimate setting of stories told around my woodstove. As The Organic Storyteller I tell anywhere from radio engagements to birthday parties, from Gala receptions to the University classroom, and all of this programming bilingually, in French or English, or both when appropriate. (I am the original frenglish/ franglais teller.)

Storytelling for me is about connections, with one another and with our past. It calls up the profound wisdom of the collective unconscious and sets us vibrating in sync.

Some highlights of my career in the arts :

* Role of storyteller - Sage Dame for the Cirque du Soleil’s production of KABA on Mont Tremblant.

* Three Storytelling tours in Western Canada -- libraries, schools, cafés, house concerts, etc.

* My Sugar Bush on Wheels/ Cabane à sucre mobiletour throughout the Outaouais & Ottawa region in spring.

* Music tours in Ontario museums, schools, retirement homes, and the municipal and provincial parks circuit.

* Resident Storyteller at Claude Laplante’s Sugarbush/ l’Érablière Claude Laplante in the beautiful Gatineau Hills, with-year round indoor and outdoor programming, told mainly to the family group (listeners of vastly different ages in one session). Here I perfected my improvisational skills by telling with many an innovative approach, for example:

       - As Johnny Appleseed telling apple stories in the orchards during U-Pic

      - As our Resident Witch telling prince to frog stories round the frog pond in my Witch’s Yard.

       - At my Kite Flying Festival - telling stories of the wind, rain, sun & sky.

       - As the 632 yr. old woman who perpetually outsmarts death, telling about it from the porch of the Sugar Shanty

       in spring, singing and clacking spoons comme dans le vieux bon temps.

* Bachelor of Performing Arts, Music & Theatre, 1984 - principal instrument voice, studying with Canadian Base Baritone Steven Henrikson; secondary instrument, folk guitar, private lessons, McGill Conservatory.

* Branch Head and Program Animator for the Montreal Children’s Library, working with literate and illiterate school-age and preschool children. After leaving my full time role I was kept on another dozen years more as a substitute animator and special events animator.

* My SOLO Barefoot, created for Toronto’s 25th Storytelling Festival -- this string of unpretentious, drôle personal anecdotes tells the story of my barefoot French Canadian childhood.

* Guest lecturer on the subject of Storytelling in a variety of venues, including Marionnapolas College, Scouts Canada, and several years at McGill University’s Education Department.

* Author of a regular feature on mythology and symbolism for the former National Storytellers’ Journal, Appleseed Quarterly.

*Presently studying photography – creating my own line of post-cards and bookmarkers entitled

The Organic Storyteller’s Collection/ Vision & Illusion par la conteuse au blé-entier.

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