Geraldine Buckley, one of the country's finest storytellers, will present an evening of hilariously true tales at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House in a special Evening of Storytelling on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. The event will be hosted by "Fredonia's favorite Irishman," Doug Manly, and will feature a post-performance reception.
Buckley's presentation is titled From the Convent to the Slammer! and features autobiographical stories from her past as she progressed from a young girl attending religious school to her job as a prison chaplain. With her trademark wit, warmth and humor, Buckley has been involved in storytelling, performance poetry and conducting creative workshops for more than 20 years in the U.S., Canada, England, Holland, South Africa and Spain.
Through folk stories and tales from her own life, Buckley takes the audience on a magic carpet ride of adventure, laughter and insight that leaves listeners both entertained and moved. And she certainly has stories! In her eclectic past, she has been, among other things, a minister in a large London church, a radio DJ, a television newsreader, an events director, a ghost writer, a food critic, a magazine editor and an award-winning performance poet.
Her most recent adventure was being the Protestant chaplain in the largest men's prison in Maryland - the Maryland Correctional Training Center - a medium security facility, where between counseling, preaching and bridging huge cultural divides, stories were her everyday currency!
Buckley has always loved stories - listening to them, reading them, telling them. She believes stories are a gift. They have a wonderful way of transporting the listener into a different realm - a land of infinite possibilities. Heard at the right time, stories can pierce problems with wise solutions, allow despair to be dispersed by hope, dissipate fear with a dose of courage, and perhaps most important, scatter joy.
She particularly loves telling true stories quivering with the laughter and lessons learned upon her odd and winding journey. "Often if I am in a tense situation or someone asks me a difficult question, I will tell a short story before reacting or giving an answer. After all," she says, "underneath we are all the same. We all long to be understood, to be loved, to be heard. A story can cut beneath cultural and intellectual facades far quicker than any diplomatic speech or long-winded moralizing. Stories are the shortest distance between two hearts."
Manly is the former CEO of RHM Grocery Products, which owned Red Wing and three other food processing companies. A resident of Fredonia for more than 50 years, he became interested in doing stand-up comedy for retirement communities six years ago and has served as emcee of storytelling event at the Opera House for the past several years.
Tickets are $10 and may be reserved or purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at (716) 679-1891, Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, 2-5 p.m. They also may be purchased online any time at www.fredopera.org. The event is sponsored by Manly; and the ticket includes a post-performance, onstage reception.
Buckley also will offer a 9 a.m. master class titled From the Pen to Performance, on Sat., Oct. 15, for anyone looking to improve their storytelling skills. Tickets are $25 and the class is limited to 25 participants.
Chautauqua County's only performing arts center presenting its own programming year-round, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of events is available at www.fredopera.org.