Do you offer virtual programs?
Yes, both Live Zoom and Vimeo links to Videos are available. I can do any of my programs this way, with some adaptations.

Who should host a live Zoom program?
It’s most effective if the host venue hosts, so the performer is free to perform and engage with the audience, rather than monitor participants’ entry into the “room” or muting. However, if that presents a difficulty for you, I have hosted without a hitch. I can do Zoom programs up to 40 minutes. If you have a pro account, we can go longer.

How do your Vimeo/Video options work?
First, if we do a Zoom live show, it can be recorded, and we can reach an agreement on how long it can be made available to your patrons. I put the videos on a professional Vimeo site, which doesn’t have a short shelf life that Zoom recordings have.

Are your programs still interactive and participatory?
Yes. My 30-year habit of interacting this way still works virtually! I was VERY happy to discover that! One adaptation is that for singing along, participants are muted. The time lag can make this clangorous if not. But I’ve seen participants clapping, dancing, making gestures, playing along with enthusiasm. During one of my fairy house craft programs, one librarian’s grandson became a charming participant who’d occasionally update us all on the progress he was making on his fairy house. Another time, a librarian led the Zoom program and kids at home talked with us as they made their fairy tale puppet theatre crafts. At the program’s end, each did a show and tell of their theatres and gave us a short and delightful puppet show. Ask for references!

Do you offer take and make crafts/programs?
Yes. These are really popular–they were filling rooms before the pandemic. Now, venues are telling me that these are a big draw, and families love offering their kids TANGIBLE activities. These can be paired with a live Zoom workshop, or a pre-recorded video. I’ve purchased professional Web cam and lighting and sound for good quality.

How long are video links available?
That depends on our agreement. Usually 2-4 weeks, sometimes longer. As this is all new since COVID-19, I’ve been trying to streamline all of this. Usually we agree on a launch date and you send out publicity, which I provide to you if you wish. It’s great for families to be able to watch as their schedules allow–and to re-watch as often as they wish, either all or part.

Storytelling is an intimate art form, for any age
It’s so important that each listener feel respected, I am careful in the way that I speak with each group, and have learned to tailor my program as I “read” the audience in the moment. For younger children I include more songs and physical activity, while for older grades the stories have relatively more mature content suited to their emotional and cognitive levels. Fortunately, folktales are inherently interesting for almost every level. I have seen so many audiences after 30 years, I know how to take their pulse, and have a huge repertoire to cull from. I love having all feel comfy and open and use my inherent enjoyment of people of all ages, and wish for them to feel good to guide me. It works.

What is the best audience size?
As with all educational settings, when done live, the lower the ratio between teacher and students, the better. Storytelling is an intimate art form, yet is performed well with a microphone for larger audiences. I do my best to give you the most I can for your budget. I recommend, if possible, an audience of no more than 200. (Larger than that means some children are physically far removed from the performer.)

What is your fee?
Please call to discuss fees and booking dates. Block booking discounts are available for shows in the same school, on the same day. I also package video links with crafts in different ways. I’ve tried to make everything affordable this year because we are all under stress and uncertainty.

How far in advance should I call to book you?
Sometimes I am available on short notice, depending on the season, show and occasion, so call any time, but for meeting your preferences the sooner, the better. 413-563-3950, email: maryjomaichack@gmail.com.

Do you have a P.A. system?
Yes. I need a grounded electrical outlet. I need enough room for myself to stand and move laterally in front of the audience

What kind of space do you need for your performance?
I need enough room for myself to stand and move laterally in front of the audience, and room for children occasionally to share the stage with me. If I am bringing a p.a. system, then I need a performance “stage” of approximately 5 feet deep by the length of the front row. I prefer to stand on the floor, with children sitting on the floor, the youngest in front and oldest in back. A center aisle allows me to get physically closer to those in the back This helps increase their feeling of contact with me, and involvement in the performance. In order to accommodate 200 children, most schools use a gym or multipurpose room; if possible, a library or smaller, acoustically more quiet room is greatly preferable as a setting it increases intimacy, connection and involvement. The best storytelling is not a spouting forth, but an implicit dialog between teller and listeners.

What do you need from us?
I need an address a GPS will love, please.  A medium sized table is helpful for my props. Stopping any announcements or bells during performance will help eliminate disruptions. In school, when adults participate and sit with their kids, kids take a cue from this great modeling. Adults who truly “attend” tell me they find programs “wonderful.”

We want to make this as beneficial experience as possible for all. What’s your advice?
You work hard to raise funds. I will do everything in my power to make this an enriching as well as entertaining experience. Tell the children ahead of time that a minstrel is coming. Talk about what will happen (generally), that they will hear stories and music in a live performance. Explain that this isn’t like television or in movies-in this show, what they do contributes to the outcome! Sometimes they will need to listen politely, sometimes they will be asked to participate in different ways-singing, clapping, dancing, using masks or even acting out a story.