As a former high school English literature teacher, stories are her thing. She adapts the ones she loves into something she thinks an audience will respond to, making them humorous or ironic.
“I’m not a funny person,” says Williams, who began storytelling professionally in 2006 after joining the Fort Myers Toastmasters. “I don’t spout humor all time.”
She works at it, trying to imitate idols like comedian Rita Rudner.
“She has a woman’s perspective in her comedy that I think is right on, and she captures the issues of the modern times,” Williams said.
During performances Williams wears what her grand-nieces call her “Hansel and Gretel” dress. It’s a patchwork dress she bought 20 years ago for square dancing. It has pink and blue trimmings that fall the length of her body.
She uses props such as a stuffed frog, red roses and inflatable dice. But these aren’t the tricks to her trade, just embellishments.
Just as a composer is nothing without the musician to play their songs, a storyteller can’t hold an audience’s attention without one thing: a great story told well.
Williams is fascinated with storytelling because it’s personal in an age when mass media is so impersonal.
“Storytelling brings a sense of connection between the audience and the performer,” she says. “They interact with each other and there is a sense of sharing an experience.”
-- Mary Lou Williams and others with the Tamiami Tale Tellers spin their stories 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 18 (and every third Thursday of the month) at Grand Court Retirement Community, 8351 College Parkway, Fort Myers. It’s free. Both storytellers and listeners are welcome. 472-1781
-- For more information about Mary Lou Williams go to www.story-theatre.com