Emily Brupbacher recited a Japanese folk tale from memory as a group of about 20 people listened to the yarn unfold Saturday.
Brupbacher, a 28-year-old master’s student at LSU, recounted “The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling,” a story about a woman who falls into another world and is enslaved by monsters all while looking for a dumpling she lost while cooking.
“My dumpling, my dumpling, where is that dumpling of mine?” Brupbacher said while imitating the old woman.
The story Brupbacher told was one of nine recited during the LSU School of Library and Information Science’s third annual Storytelling Festival in the university’s Coates Hall.
Students from a class called “The Art and Practice of Library Storytelling” study storytelling in different cultures, assistant professor Suzanne Stauffer, who teaches the course, said.
The class, which is only taught in the summer, has 11 students this year, Stauffer said. Two could not attend Saturday’s event because of scheduling conflicts.
The students gather together at the end of the session to depict their favorite narratives, Stauffer said.
Stauffer said she hopes to expand the festival into a day-long affair in which storytellers come from across the state to tell tales.
Stauffer said she hosts the event so her students can become accustomed to telling stories to groups of people. She said most of them will become librarians and teachers someday.
“They are going to be using these stories in their profession,” she said.
The students wrote a research paper in addition to memorizing their stories, Stauffer said. The papers focus on stories in a specific culture and can mention as many as six fables.
“They just pick one that’s their favorite to tell,” she said.
The students on Saturday told stories from a variety of cultures, such as Polish, Yiddish and Hindu.
The Hindu yarn came from Kiaran Cortez, a 32-year-old master’s student who will graduate with a degree in gifted education this summer.
Cortez chose a Hindu story called “The Cat Who Became Queen,” a tale in which a kitten becomes married to a prince in an elaborate scheme to fool a king.
As Cortez recalled, a king told his many wives he wanted a child by the end of the year or else he would banish them. Scared and out of options, the wives lied and said a daughter had been born.
The wives found a kitten and hid it, saying the king could not see the “daughter” until she was married — which the king believed.
The king finds a prince to marry his “daughter,” but the wives convince the prince to go along with the scheme. After the marriage ceremony — during which the cat is concealed — the prince keeps the “princess” locked up so everyone will remain fooled.
The prince’s mother hears the cat crying in the room and prays to the goddess Parvati, who hears the prayers and empathizes with the cat. Parvati finds a way to change the cat into a beautiful princess — and everyone lived happily ever after.
Cortez, a teacher at Bernard Terrace Elementary School, said she usually is comfortable in front of groups but had a few nerves at Saturday’s event because the story she memorized was so long.
“I’m a teacher, so I don’t mind being in front of children — but being in front of adults is another thing,” she said with a laugh.