StoryMasters Open House: For the Love of Stories 2.0

By Margaret Mitchell

On Sunday, February 10, it rained all day. Would the wet weather put a damper on the StoryMasters Open House? I hoped for the best as I drove to the venue.

As It turned out, some 32 members and invited guests braved the rain to hear five storytellers present compelling stories from the Advanced Storytelling manual. The event was aptly named For Love of Stories 2.0.

When guests entered the lobby of Jiro and Tina Tomiyama’s lovely home, they were warmly greeted and directed to the dining room, where a lavish spread of sweet and savory gustatory pleasures awaited.

The main event took place in the living room, where a warm fire beckoned from the fireplace. Chairs were set out theater style. On each chair, a beautifully designed program had been placed, along with a coaster (to serve as a memento of the occasion) and a chocolate heart wrapped in red foil. Oh my!

Sergeant At Arms Aprille Isham summoned us to the living room. President Padmarajan Ilangovan made welcoming remarks and introduced the Toastmaster, Miyo, Yamauchi. Then almost like magic, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun appeared. I sat back in my chair and prepared to enjoy.

Debbie Kenneybrew opened the program with a spine-tingling folk tale, Blues Brother Bobby, about her encounter with some colorful characters, including a ghost. She enhanced her performance by playing a mean harmonica and told the story so skillfully that some audience members even wondered if it was a true story.
Antoinette Byron’s personal story, All that Glitters Isn’t Gold, artfully wove together the threads of love, her relationship with her mother, and a treasured silver tea pot. Her gifts as a writer and storyteller led me—and other audience members, I’m sure—to a sweetly satisfying conclusion.

Catherine Magruder’s story, Unspoken Words, recounted a memorable Thanksgiving dinner and how she carefully formulated the words to respond to an argument she anticipated with her powerful aunt. This entertaining and skillfully told tale drove home the moral that “unspoken words need to be spoken so there will not be a void.”

Aprille Isham revisited her childhood to tell a delightful, touching story titled Hunt for the Golden Easter Egg. Her well-honed storytelling skills placed me right there in each scene she described, and right there feeling her heartbreak as a nine-year-old girl.

Tina Tomiyama brought history to life with Silent Music, a story about Ludwig van Beethoven. In this well told story, we were transported to 19th century Germany and the struggles this musician and composer faced as he rose to greatness. The story’s conclusion, where Tina hummed bars from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in D Minor, was a powerful conclusion to a wonderful concert of stories.

Other stars in the Open House lineup included: Miyo Yamauchi, Toastmaster, who conducted the meeting graciously and professionally; and Uche Akotaobi, General Evaluator, who brought his unique style and wit to the role and judged the meeting to be a template for how an Open House should be conducted.
Providing essential support were the Evaluators, Pieter Severynen, Claudette Payne, Kathy Falco, Anna Ziss-Patton and Janine Burke; Timer, Elizabeth Smith; Wordmaster/Grammarian, Margaret Mitchell; and Photographer, JaMarr John Johnson.

Club President Padmarajan Ilangovan opened and closed the meeting with his usual aplomb.

The most welcome part of any Open House is to gain a new member. StoryMasters is happy to welcome our newest member, Anne Guillebeaux!

StoryMasters is an advanced club where members learn how to use the ancient art of storytelling to make their presentations more memorable and powerful. Each meeting features 5-6 stories, followed by individual and round-robin evaluations.

Please check out our latest newsletter and visit us! We meet every second Sunday @ 3-5pm at the Tomiyama residence, 3720 Monteith Drive, View Park 90043.

RSVP: Tina Tomiyama

Posted in Club Spotlight, Newsletter.


  1. The meeting recap is a beautiful story woven by Margaret Mitchell. Accolades. I am so sorry I missed the meeting. I will plan to attend in March if I am in town, to join the fun and develop much needed storytelling skills.

  2. WOW! Sure looks like Everyone had an Amazing time! It was “sold out” when I tried to RSVP. Bet I won’t miss the next one! IT’s ALWAYS a pleasure to join Story Masters. Tina and Margaret present an incredible Club Meeting and the few times I have visited, I invariably leave with a feeling of Joy, Peace, Love and Enchantment! Thank You Story Masters. Wishing you All The Very Best- in all ways.

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