Erica Lann-Clark

Literary Arts
Theater Arts

Available only to Schools

Erica Lann-Clark is a full-time storyteller, solo performer and author, and has been with SPECTRA since 1992. Lann-Clark started as an elementary school teacher in New York, where she developed a drug prevention program for middle schoolers. Erica has her MA in English Literature from NYU, studied theater at the HB Studio in New York, worked in off-Broadway theater as an actor, and became an award winning playwright. Her plays have been produced nationally and locally. Lann-Clark has told her stories across the country and overseas. She has been featured at major storytelling festivals and conferences, including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. For six years she was Storytelling Director at Stagebridge Senior Theater Company in Oakland. Her solo shows have run to critical acclaim at The Marsh Theater in San Francisco, The Actors Theater in Santa Cruz, and elsewhere. These shows include Tribal tales, Cooking Up My Real Self, Once There Was a World, Shopping for God, Songs and Stories, and Reincarnation of a Melody. She's received grants from Theater Bay Area CA$H (twice), from Cultural Council of Santa Cruz (three), from the SC City Arts Commission (twice).

Additional Languages: Spanish, German, and French

phone: (831) 479-1874

Storytelling as a Bridge to Literacy

(Residency (12-20 hrs of instruction)) Like writers, storytellers ‘write’ their stories, too, but not on paper. Storytellers write on each listener’s imagination. And you can see the story happening on the faces of the listeners. As a teller makes images with his voice, face, body and words, the listeners decode the auditory and visual gestures to make pictures happen in their heads, like an inner TV or computer screen. As this exchange is going on, there is a powerful personal connection between the two -- each gesture, each gasp, or laugh or raised eyebrow tells the story as much as the words do. And each listener reaction, each deep silence, or strong eye contact, or laugh, or yawn, is immediate feedback and helps the teller edit the story. This process makes storytelling the perfect bridge to writing. Once a child has told his story, he or she has a story to write! Past experience and teacher observations say this residency:

Motivates children to write and read more
Improves reading comprehension
Brings invisible children out of their anonymity
Helps children ‘get’ a fundamental, innate sense of “story
Develops narrative sequencing skills

As listeners, children learn how to give feedback, engage in call and response, and re-tell stories they hear. As tellers, they learn how to create a story structure, create images from their five senses, and utilize songs, gestures, repetitions, pauses, etc. to hook listeners and make them "jump" or laugh. The final residency session is a fiesta, a celebration of the students’ favorite storytelling games, and often parents and family or other classes are invited.

Grade level: 3-8
Requirements: Classroom or multipurpose room
Fee: $50/hr (plus lesson planning hours)

Dare To Be Kind:

A diversity and conflict resolution residency that explores students’ own experiences with bullying and kindness
(Residency (12-20 hrs of instruction)) In an art project, students create their ‘Identity Wheel’ and learn the concepts of every person having both a public and a private identity -- in relationship to inclusion and exclusion. In drama games, students role-play the roles they’ve seen people play in their communities and in their school. In group discussions students reflect on how they felt playing their roles; they share their experiences of kindness and bullying and they brainstorm new ways to resolve conflict and deal with diversity. In each residency session, time is set aside for children to learn simple, basic skill in centering their energy and letting go of stress. This residency is in-depth and transformative: it gives students insight into how people and groups behave, how they themselves behave, how they might behave differently and also gives them some basic skill to act differently.

Grade level: 6-12
Requirements: Classroom or multipurpose room
Fee: $50/hr (plus lesson planning hours)

Preschool/Kindergarten Story Drama Workshop

(Workshop/Residency (2-12 hours of instruction)) We turn classic stories: Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red Hen, Monkey and Crocodile, The Three Bears into story dramas, with some children as the storyteller, some as the characters, and some as the Most Important People in every story -- The LISTENERS. After participatory acting/tellings, we explore the themes of the story, (i.e., the hunger of the goats, the uncooperative friends of the little red hen) and then we share personal stories of times we were hungry, describe our favorite foods, or tell how we help out at home. We make simple percussion instruments, and I use hand puppets, songs, and drums. After a telling, children draw their favorite part of the story for their journals. My stories are about family, working together, the community, friendship, cooperation, adventure. I choose stories and themes to connect with the teacher’s curriculum. The children learn about listening to a story, telling a story, sharing space, taking turns and more. The final session is a fiesta, a celebration of our favorite things.

Grade level: Pre-K-2
Fee: $50/hr

Teacher In-Service

(Workshop) In-service sessions offer teacher storytelling strategies and story games to develop language arts and literacy, as well as supporting environmental concepts, historical themes, and respect for diversity and other value-based lessons. Teachers learn strategies for incorporating scary stories, tall tales, urban legends, personal experiences and cultural mythologies into their curriculum.

Grade level: Teachers
Fee: $50/hr

Parent and Family Workshops

(Workshop) Parents and family members learn riddles, jokes and story games to play with their children. Parents/family members share some of the stories they heard as children: from family history, scary stories, bedtime stories to teaching stories. They brainstorm ways to share the stories they heard as children and ways to find or make up new stories for their children. Participants learn how to make puppets they can use in their storytelling. Workshops can be structured for adults only, or for adults and children.

Grade level: Adults and children
Fee: $50/hr

Storytelling Performances

"My students, even the ones who lose attention the easiest, were glued to you. Your sense of humor is delightful and the sotires' themes are so valuable today."-- J. Hickok, Hyde Elementary, Watsonville

(Performance/Assembly) Long before books existed, people all over the world told stories to pass on wisdom, teach children values, honor heroic deeds, heal wounded hearts, remember the past, and they also told stories to brag and gossip and delight each other. Even today, we're all still telling each other our stories -- because stories are how we make meaning! My storytelling assemblies are very participatory to draw in students of all ages. I tell stories so that the listeners can become the heroes of the story. My hands-on workshops and residencies give children funny, engaging pre-writing experiences with narrative so that their oral storytelling can become the “first draft” of a story they later write. “You made me feel like I was in the story. When I grow up, I want to tell stories just like you.” -- Sarah, 5th grade. My assemblies are participatory to engage students and give them the experience of both the power and the delight of storytelling -- the oral tradition -- the time “before books”. My story choices aim to enrich post-performance classroom discussion/activity. All my performances, workshops, and residencies use California Standards for Performing Arts and for Language Arts. All my assemblies are tailored to meet teachers' needs. In all performances I reserve a little time at the end for reflection, for sharing and to set up a possible post-performance activity.

Nature All Around, Environmental Stories
Grades 3- 8
Tales from around the world reveal everything is deeply connected; the water cycle is an example; the predator/prey relationship is another. Both folk tales and true stories explore environmental concepts and teach the importance of stewardship. Particular attention will be paid to places where people have established good stewardship practices and to places where students are being good stewards in their communities.

The California Gold Rush, the Untold Tales
Grades 3 - 5
A complement to California history -- these are the untold stories. They show the strange mix of characters who lived through that extraordinary era: like the Gentleman Miner, Jim Gillis of Angel’s Camp; like Charlie Fong, one of the Fong brothers of San Francisco; like the down-and out reporter looking for a story, any story -- that unknown writer, Mark Twain.

Myths and Legends from Many Lands
Grades 5 - 12
Tales of Gods, demigods, and heroes who faced demons, gods, giants, deceit, danger and disaster, and still achieved impossible tasks. Teachers can choose the Kalevala from Finland, Gilgamesh and Inanna (Sumerian mythology), Arthurian legends (Arthur and the Loathly Lady, Gawain and the Green Knight), medieval French romances (Tristan and Iseult), Greek myths (Midas, Demeter & Persephone, Atalanta, Jason & Medea, Arachne & Athena) Irish myths (Fionn MacCumhnail and the Fionna), and Native American myths (Hopi Creation Myth). Teacher’s choice. These tales illuminate an ancient world and show the nature of a heroic journey.

Chilling Tales and Urban Legends
Grades 5 - 12
These stories are spine-tingling, heartrending with screaming ghosts, flying skeletons, fiery rivers, monkey’s paws and rooster’s claws! There are terrifying car rides, strange late-night cemetery walks, headless horsemen who gallop right at you. These really, really scary stories from around the world -- some of them really, really happened -- to a friend of mine -- or did they?

Grades 3 - 12
Folktales, legends and true stories of strong girls and brave women who made a difference, like Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie, Diane Fossey, Eleanor Roosevelt --or teacher’s choice.

Grade level: 3-12, depending on the performance
Fees: One Performance: $350, Two Performances: $450, Three Performances: $550