Par Stéphanie Ratovonarivo

I had heard a lot about Dan Yashinsky.  His talent and natural charisma, his significant career as a storyteller abroad… I was a little bit intimidated when I first met him : the Great Dan Yashinsky. And yet there he was… talking to you like he had known you for years. So approachable.

He arrived with an amazing story which was probably part invention, probably part inspiration from his real life. Some aspects seemed so real, some other parts seemed too over the top to be authentic but who knows? As he liked to remind us: sometimes life can be so surprising…

He drew for us the portrait of a freelance storyteller who was struggling with debts and lack of contracts. One day, he was summoned by  the richest man in the world, a man who was dying. He asked Stormfool (Dan Yashinsky’s nickname) to be his personal yarnspinner. That poor old man who had everything, wanted only one thing at the end of his life: to listen to stories. It was a need.

As they shared quality time together, a sincere and respectful relationship began to develop. I believed, I could feel,  that Stormfool’s visits were pure delight for the old man. And we, the audience, enjoyed every little story he came up with.

Apart from that, Dan Yashinsky (Stormfool) revealed the hardest part of being a storyteller : people’s prejudices, the difficulty of making a living from storytelling, the toll it can take on relationships etc. I believe a lot of independent artists in the audience were  definitely in agreement with him.

But somehow, Dan (Stormfool)  never cared too much about what people say. In fact, he has been in the storytelling « business » for forty years… Even when he -fictionally- inherited  the old man’s fortune, it was too much for him. He gave it all away  to his ex-wife, ‘no strings attached’, trusting she would dispose of it wisely…and Stormfool is allowed to just be free, free to continue his « absurd » passion for sharing stories.

Somehow I deeply wish that everything he told us was true. I really enjoyed listening to him and I realize that storytelling is mostly a matter of generosity.