Voyageur Storytelling Leslie and Paul

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Leslie and Paul

Photo by Michael McLuhan MPA

Leslie Robbins-Conway was raised and educated in Toronto, and lived for a year in Israel before returning in 1971 to Toronto where for the next 27 years she raised her family and worked first as a teacher, later as a professional storyteller and founder of Jewish Storytelling Arts. In 1998 she moved to Yellowknife where she and Paul Conway formed their partnership, Voyageur Storytelling.

Paul Conway was raised in Huntsville, Ontario, educated in Canada and abroad, and lived for 25 years, from 1971 until 1996, in Edmonton, Alberta, where he raised his family. In 1996 he moved to Yellowknife to re-build a failing Family Service agency, a project that took three years. Leslie joined him in 1998.

In 1999 Leslie and Paul moved to Puslinch, Ontario, where they spent two years providing palliative care and other support to their parents. In late 2001, following the deaths of Leslie’s mother and Paul’s father, and the completion of estate business, they moved to Northern Bruce Peninsula and established Voyageur Storytelling in a new form, which continues to this day.

Leslie is a former active member of the Toronto storytelling community, and founder of Jewish Storytelling Arts. Her repertoire extends widely in the folk and classical traditions, for both children and adults. She is a notable innovator in that wide field shared by storytelling and theatre, in such productions as The Interrupted Life of Etty Hillesum; Sammy Taft, World Famous Hatter; and The Golum of Toronto. She has performed for the past thirty years at festivals, concerts and other storytelling events across Canada, in schools and other community settings, and on radio and television.

Paul is a writer, singer and classical storyteller with a particular interest in Canadian history and myth which he renders into stories, ballads, and operatic arias. He combines his own material with diverse borrowings from folk, literary and musical traditions to create unusual entertainments such as The Athabasca Fur-Trading Adventure of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Mermaid of Yellowknife Bay, Wake Up Macushla!, and others. He has produced, directed and performed in musical plays and operas, and was for several years a member of the Edmonton Opera Chorus.

Leslie's Resumé

Academic Degrees:
* B.A. (1970), Sociology and Psychology, University of Toronto.
* Ontario Primary School Teachers' Certificate (1972)
* M.Ed. (1983), Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto
* Masters Diploma in Early Childhood Education (1983), Institute of Child Study, Toronto

Previous Employment:
* Freelance Storyteller, 1983 to present
* Hebrew Teacher, Beth Ezekiel Synagogue, Owen Sound, 2002 to present
* Kids First Child Care Centre, Yellowknife, 1998 to 1999, child care worker and storyteller
* Jewish Storytelling Arts, Artistic Director, 1987 to 1997
* Temple Sinai Religious School, 1981 to 1991, librarian
* Toronto Board of Education, 1984 to 1985, supply teacher
* Home Daycare Provider, 1975 to 1982
* Toronto Board of Education, 1972 to 1975, kindergarten teacher
* Beit Alpha Kibbutz, Jezreel Valley, Israel, 1970 to 1971

Theatre Shows – Producing and Performing (Highlights):
* Fiddler on the Roof, (1999) Ptarmigan Ptheatrics, Yellowknife, role of Golda
* The Interrupted Life of Etty Hillesum , (1995-1997) Jewish Storytelling Arts, Toronto
* Fried Onions and Garlic, (1992) National Storytelling Theatre, Toronto
* Ghost Stories, (1991) Young People's Theatre, Toronto
* The Golem of Toronto, (1991) National Storytelling Theatre, Toronto
* Ghost Stories, (1990) National Storytelling Theatre, Toronto
* Sammy Taft: World Famous Hatter, (1990) Jewish Storytelling Arts, Toronto* began storytelling in Toronto with the Storytellers School of Toronto and their events such as 1001 Friday Nights (an event which continues to this day) and the Toronto Storytelling Festival

* founded Jewish Storytelling Arts in the mid 1980's and organized or helped organize their events and festivals until 1998

*told widely in schools and at festivals and events across Ontario and nationally

*was and still is one of Canada's premiere storytelling performers, indeed, in Paul's not entirely unbiased opinion, one of Canada's four great storytelling divas, the others being Mary-Eileen McClear, Melanie Ray, and Denise Markhame. (It is possible that younger women are giving these great performers some competition now, but Paul is not aware of them.)

Leslie is on Facebook:


Paul's Resumé

Academic Degrees:
* B.A. (1965) in General Arts, English Literature, from Trinity College, University of Toronto
* M.B.A. (1967) with concentration in Operations Research and Statistics from the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago
* M.Sc. (1970) in Econometrics from the London School of Economics, University of London, England

Previous Employment:
* Freelance Writer/Performer, 1985 to present
* NWT Family Services, Yellowknife, 1996 to 1999, Executive Director
* The Family Centre, Edmonton, 1993 to 1996, Director of Evaluation
* Carcajou Research Limited, Edmonton, 1977 to 1992, Proprietor and Principal
* Northern Development Group, Government of Alberta, 1974 to 1977, Research Director
* Alberta Bureau of Statistics, 1972 to 1974, Manager of Economic Accounts
* Boreal Institute for Northern Studies, University of Alberta, 1971-1972, Research Associate
* Canada Packers Ltd., Toronto, 1967 to 1969, Operations Research Technician

Storytelling, Musical and Theatrical Productions:
* performing and theatrical interests started with the Edmonton Opera Chorus, and developed through projects and engagements of varying size, complexity and duration with the Edmonton Fringe Festival, Pastime Productions (often performing at Fort Edmonton Park with Elsie Hepburn and Loretta Dueck), the Edmonton Chautauqua Cultural Society, and Da Camera Singers from 1985 to 1996.

* produced the original operetta "Rose Marie" in a tent at Fort Edmonton Park in 1990 and 1991.

* wrote, produced and directed the Mozart pastiche opera "The Athabasca Fur-Trading Adventure of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart" in 1991.

* NWT Aurora Award for Modern Storytelling, 1997, for the concert The Mermaid of Yellowknife Bay performed at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, April 1997, with pianist Janet Troje and flautist Maureen Crotty.

* began storytelling and hosting events with T.A.L.E.S. Edmonton at Fort Edmonton Park and the rest, as they say, is history. Ever so obscure history.

For more about Paul, follow the :

Paul's Fish Story: A Voyageur Storytelling Classic


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Voyageur Storytelling, November 2011

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