She says that we can understand any place, at any time, by examining five little things—small, seemingly random objects you can hold in the palm of your hand that serve as a sort of time capsule, transporting you back.
“I like to approach history not from the battles and generals and dates and places, but the individual people,” she says, by way of explanation. “Small lives, meaning the people who would have been me if I'd lived at that time and place. Those people were making history, too. We just don’t hear about them as much.”
Hydock will soon appear in Jonesborough for a week’s worth of storytelling concerts, sharing historical tales as well as personal stories, folklore, and fairy tales.
The storyteller first tested her “five little things” theory on the Dutch Golden Age, a surprisingly rich era that’s abundant in stories, even if it isn’t well remembered. “I know that some people will think, ‘Oh, this poor woman has lost her mind,’” Hydock jokes. “Why would anyone be interested in that? But if you trace it back, these five things are the beginnings of our financial system and our governmental system. All sorts of things that we think we invented in the 21st century actually had a role in Holland in the 1600’s. This tiny little country was the most technologically active, financially stable country in the known world. Concepts like climate change, the global economy, government bailout, innovation depots, mass media, and wearable tech were all part of the Dutch Golden Age.”
The themes of the story, too, touch a modern nerve. As Hydock points out, the Dutch guilder currency was the American dollar of the 17th century. “It's hard to even imagine now, but these people ruled the early 17th century,” she says. “The lesson for all of us is that now they're famous for chocolate and tulips. You can be on top of the world, but it doesn't necessarily last forever. The Dutch were ‘it’ in the 17th century and the British were ‘it’ in the 18th and 19th century. The U.S. was ‘it’ in the 20th century, and all we have to do is look back at what happened to them. The same thing could happen to us, as Americans.”
Hydock, who frequently performs for the Storytelling Live! series and at the National Storytelling Festival, is delighted to appear in Jonesborough this summer. “All stories connect us in some way or another,” she says. “There’s plenty that divides us, so it’s nice that stories are a way to connect through laughter or some other kind of emotion. It's just such a great resource to have.”
Tickets for all matinee shows are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. All ticketholders can present their ticket stubs for a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only); Medley Vegan Vegetarian; Olde Towne Pancake House; and The Corner Cup. Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.
The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.