Irish myths still vibrant through art of storytelling

Lakewood Center for the Arts
community meeting room
Friday March 16, 8 p.m.
$8/adults $6/seniors

We all tell stories, but we can’t tell them like Will Hornyak. The difference is that he’s a professional storyteller and on March 16 you can get the chance to hear how it’s really done at the Lakewood Center for the Arts in Lake Oswego. He will bring to life the one-man show entitled “Irish Myths and Folktales” at 8 p.m. in honor of St. Patrick’s day.

The performance will weave together traditional myths and fables from the Emerald Isle with some of the lore and legends of the fourth century St. Patrick. The stories will transport you to the time of MacUail and his legendary band of warrior-poets, called the Fianna. A time when poor peddlers walked the rocky road to Ballaghedreen. Make sure that you and your kids are all wearing a bit of green for this magical story.

It is no wonder that Hornyak has been called the “storyteller’s storyteller.” He teaches oral tradition at Marylhurst University among a multitude of other places, some as strange as corporate offices.

Having been a journalist in Latin America, he can meld an understanding of world culture with the raw power of a performer and intuitive feel of rhythm. His exciting and original presentation of myths, fables and folktales conduct crowd participation and personal connection with the stories. From outrageous to ordinary, ridiculous to profound, Hornyak’s genuine appreciation of the art form grips the audience. He spends much of his time touring the Northwest with presentations, workshops and seminars featuring his passion.

This exciting event is the latest contribution of the Lakewood Center for the Arts. The center is constructed around a dance studio, aerobic classes, ballet, tap, jazz by Terry Brock, the Lakewood Center Gallery, the Lakewood Theater Company, and many other organizations. The center occupies the old Lakewood School which became available in 1979.

Before then, there was only the Lakewood Theater Company based in a vacant Methodist church. The theater company operates as a nonprofit organization reaching as far back as 1952. The company started when a group of Lake Oswegans decided to organize what was known as the Oswego Players. Their first production, called “Blithe Spirit,” was performed in junior high schools and halls throughout the area.

The vacant church offered seating for a 100 people and the company performed over 110 times before they decided they had outgrown it. The problem of constantly sold out shows has been alleviated by nearly doubling the seating to 196.

The Lakewood mission is divided into two parts. First, they want to establish and maintain a permanent multi-arts and theatre facility. Their second purpose is the sponsorship and coordination of education and cultural programming in visual arts, theater and community events.

They’ve definitely accomplished both of these things with “Irish Myths and Folktales.” Oral tradition is a valuable part of history shaping the way we think and live. Irish or otherwise, everybody knows a few stories from more than a few thousands years ago.

To vocalize these epics as were intended, is to take a step back in time. Way back. A time when people camped alongside the road when they were going somewhere. A time when the only way to stay warm or cook food was with fire. Believe me, back then dog wasn’t man’s best friend. A time when the newspaper was the most recent person to pass through town. A time when the only way to pass on history and heritage to our young was by telling stories around the campfire.

This oral tradition is as old as we are. It is part of us from the day we are born. Old men and children have always been instinctively drawn together by the simple words, “Grandpa, tell me a story.” Do you remember those days? Felt good didn’t they? Why don’t you tell Hornyak that when you hear him speak on Friday.