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  • Brandon Spars

Our Tongues Danced the Night Away


The theme was "It Takes Two to Tango," and it led us all over: one-eyed owls, slaughtered pigs, wilderness survival, the October fires in Sonoma County, and into the intricacies of many relationships. 


Ted Patchet told a delightful, light tale about the time he made his brother sit on a cactus. He had attended the workshop prior to the slam and the craft he put into his story was evident. While it didn't win a prize, I think most of the audience left remembering how Ted's brother retaliated by putting a beetle in Ted's ear while he was asleep—a large, spiny South African beetle. 


Dan and Quincey Imhoff attended the workshop, at which Dan told a version of his story about being lost in the freezing wilderness while skiing. Dan surprised everyone by doing something that had never been done before. He took the stage with Quincey! They told the story as a duo, switching back and forth, truly like a dance. It was even more rivetting to hear what Quincey was going through while waiting for her husband to hopefully return. 


This duo blazed the path for a second duo performance by Claire Mollard and Josh Weil. These two had already brought a crowd to tears with their performance at "Thicker than Smoke," which was in August of 2018. They did it again. Their performance at Coyote Tales was near the end of the evening, and served as a dramatic climax to the event. Josh and Claire hit the audience with powerful visuals and drama as they relived the harrowing experience of Josh having to evacuate Kaiser Hospital while Claire was driving through fire to get her daughter, Sophie, and herself out of danger. This story won first place because of how they tampered the raw emotion they bared on the stage with beautifully crafted lines and a solid story structure. As first place winners, Claire and Josh took home a certificate for a dinner at Goose & Gander


Linda Miller, who took third place overall, represented the other end of the story spectrum as she had the entire audience in stitches with her tale about being the only woman in a male-dominated tech world. Business lunches often took her to strip clubs where she was made to watch exactly what she struggled against—the objectification of women. Linda was lively, smart, and fun to listen to. Her prize, a lovely dinner at Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, will be a well earned reprieve—dinner without a show. 


This year we had another first, as a Sonoma Academy faculty member took the stage. Marco Morrone, who is no stranger to the stage, achieved a wonderful blend between humor and drama as he shared his struggles with his mother. Marco really exemplified how powerful it is when we make ourselves vulnerable in front of the audience. There was a palpable bond in the room between Marco and his audience as he gave a vivid account of a phone conversation with his mother in which she finally told him that she could not follow Marco's lead in meeting each other halfway. The audience was providing what his mother hadn't been able to—love. Marco took home the second prize, which was a dinner to Gott's Roadside


Love was the real theme of the evening. There was the romance that Renata Belash narrated, the discovered love for her newly found biological father that the event organizer Margaux Hardy bravely recounted, the affectionate teasing that the co-host Marsha Engdahl did of her sophomore daughter, and, of course, the love that was present in the audience for each of the tellers as they bravely stood in front taking an enormous risk. 


I was very lucky to co-host with Marshal this year, and she brought her charm, wit, and wisdom to the microphone every time she introduced a teller. I know that next year she will be among those who throw their names in that hat, and I suspect she will be joining me on stage again as the co-host for the fifth Coyote Tales. I'll have Claire and Josh with me on stage next year. 


We could not have had our third rendition of this event without the generosity of the Green Music Center and Schroeder Hall donating the space. The Jackson Family Winery donated the wine for the reception. And then, of course, there are the donors to Coyote Tales, some of whom have donated all three years. We are resetting the bar every year with what we make for the school. 


Coyote Tales 2019: Boogie Wonderland-It Takes Two to Tango, September 22, 2019

 

©2019 by Brandon Spars