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And Now, Would You Please Welcome ... A guide for emceeing storytelling events by Susan Klein. Oak Bluffs, MA: Ruby Window Productions, 1997. 22pp. $7.00
What is it that makes an effective emcee? And why is an emcee so important, anyway? Susan Klein draws on her years of experience as a storyteller, emcee, .and festival producer to address these and other questions.
Unless you've experienced a bad emcee, you might not be aware of the role a good one plays in creating the atmosphere for listening, setting the mood, and smoothing the way for tellers to do their thing. Klein states that emcees are "equal in importance to the storytellers themselves, (even more important, some would say) for the assurance of a successful performance event."
So how does one become a good emcee? Well, arming yourself with this monograph is a good beginning. In its pages you will learn the basic responsibilities of the emcee, and some pitfalls to avoid. Klein discusses when the emcee should be on stage and for how long. She looks at . . introductions, good and bad, and the importance of timing the event and planning its flow. Should you, as emcee, tell a story? What happens if a teller takes too much time? How do you handle a situation where the teller loses emotionall control of the material? Klein offers her opinion and advice on all of these questions and more.
The advice is good, and I am not aware of any other publication which addresses the specific skills.and needs of emceeing a storytelling event. Klein does not mince words. There is no doubt in the reader's mind how she stands on the issues, and no doubt that she takes the professionalism of teller, emcee and producer very seriously.
One suggestion which might make the booklet more useful would be to break up the text. If the same information was divided into subject areas with bold headings it would not only be more inviting visually, it would be easier to refer to specific areas, and perhaps even easier to grasp and retain the points being made and the advice being offered. That aside, this is a most welcome addition to the shelves of tellers, event organizers, and would-be emcees. If readers take its words to heart, we may all benefit from the delight of smoothly run storytelling events.
Cost is $15 plus shipping/ handling. Available Susan Klein, Ruby Window Productions , Box 214 Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. 508-693-4140 or on-line http://www.susanklein.net [checked ok Apr 2009]
The Second Story Review, Vol 2, No. 3, Sep 1997