Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Looking Towards Home: A Return For Those Who Serve

Storytellers of New Mexico / Tortuga Galley
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Elaine Muray
Photo courtesy of Storytellers of New Mexico
Storytelling is, of course, the ancestor of theatre and the still relevant cousin of the art form. The Tortuga Storytelling Series is a collaboration of the Storytellers of New Mexico and the Tortuga Galley. Each presentation is curated storytelling thematically related to the current gallery show. The series showcases professional and semi-professional storytellers and includes a post-performance talk back with each night's two featured storytellers.

This recent informal evening of storytelling gave wide interpretation to the experience of returning home after war, with two storytellers featured. Elaine Muray presented three very different pieces on the subject, including a folktale, a personal narrative, and a hybrid of a story that integrated a soldier's tale with a well-known story. Visual artist Eliza Schmid, whose artwork is exhibited at Tortuga Gallery during November, honored her father with a special reading from his book about his time in a labor camp in Russia. It was an engaging and thought-provoking evening.

Both women brought their unique backgrounds to the storytelling. Dr. Eliza Schmid is a retired psychiatrist who lived through WWII in Vienna, Austria, her former home. Her father, a distinguished chemistry professor, was drafted into Hitler's army and forced to serve on the Russian front. From 1943 to 1947 he survived in a prison camp near Stalingrad. His book, completed shortly before he died in the United States in the 1990s, is remarkably positive. Dr. Schmid was also optimistic in her relaying her father's story.

Elaine Muray brought an eclectic background to her work as a storyteller, including corporate public relations and marketing, acting, and training with Marcel Marceau. She integrated movement and narration into tales from around the world as well as personal stories. Her tales included surprise twists and are performed with skill.

This presentation was one of several ongoing programs offered throughout the year by Storytellers of New Mexico, which was founded in 1997 and is a community-based, nonprofit, and membership organization serving storytellers and listeners across the state. Programs include educational workshops and story crafting sessions, monthly personal and traditional storytelling shows, and participation in two annual global storytelling showcases.

Storytellers of New Mexico's Looking Towards Home: A Return For Those Who Serve was presented on November 8, 2019, at Tortuga Gallery, 901 Edith Blvd SE, Albuquerque NM. The next performance is scheduled for March 20, 2020, in conjunction with World Storytelling Day. For more information, visit