Who is Molly MacGregor?
Molly MacGregor tells the very best folktales and fairy tales. I inhabit her body and soul each month when she tells stories to the tiny humans and their grown-ups at the local library. She has evolved over a period of years to become someone I am quite fond of, and she has asked that I tell her story.
Molly is a storyteller from Once Upon a Time, a place where there are heroes and dragons, fair maids and feisty ones. She was a cook by trade, before she was summarily dismissed by Old King Cole because he is not a “merry old soul.” She lives with her son, Jack, who you might think you know because of that story about a giant and some magic beans. Molly swears that story is “poppycock and balderdash!” Molly will tell you a story about Jack that is true.
Molly also tells tales from the far corners of Once Upon a Time, not because she has travelled, but because the stories had. Learning about a new place, or a new story brings joy to Molly’s heart. Sharing stories with you makes her soul sing. She is a figment of my imagination, but her evolution was not a single act of creation.
Molly burst forth after collaborating with The Muse.
Molly is a name I have always loved. In fact, I wanted to change my name to Molly because my mother always introduced me as, “My daughter, Beth. No, it’s not short for Elizabeth. It’s just plain Beth.” I didn’t want to be “just plain anything!” My parents would not hear of a name change. It was the 1950’s.
My paternal grandmother was from Scotland, and a MacGregor. We didn’t know much about my dad’s family, much less the history of the Macgregor Clan. Apparently, it wasn’t considered important. When I went to Scotland several years ago, I didn’t want to leave. The Scottish Highlands called to a part of my soul, grounding me and uplifting me all at the same time, which I didn’t understand. When I returned and was sharing the photos with my niece, I tried to explain this experience.
Her response was, “Did you forget we are Scottish?”
Fast forward a couple of years. Although I had been telling stories at our local library once a month for over a decade, attendance was dwindling. It was true for all of the library programming, not just mine. That offered little comfort. Some Saturday mornings, no children wanted to hear a tale. Disheartening and discouraging. Needed to up my game I thought, make it special. So, after conferring with the Muse, I donned my costume, picked up the accent I reserved for Celtic Festivals, and gave my storyteller a name. Molly MacGregor.
Costumes were expected when I began telling at Celtic Festivals. While they didn’t need to be entirely authentic, the costume did at least need to suggest a much earlier time. As a theatre person turned storyteller, I welcomed the chance to dress up.
That was many years ago.
I have since heard storytellers voice opinions about costumes, both positive and negative, and a storytelling uniform versus a costume. I have seen storytellers run the gamut from costume to uniform to “Are you really going to get onstage wearing that???” From where I stand, storytelling is a performance art with at least as many variations on that theme as there are tellers. Each unique, each wonderful, each bringing stories that remind us what it means to be human.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.