Seanchai Library: celebrating a dozen years in SL

Seanchai Library

Sunday, March 22nd sees Seanchai Library celebrating 12 continuous years of bringing stories, literature, poems and more to life in Second Life and beyond through the spoken word.

Founded in 2008, Seanchai Library has presented thousands of storytelling events across the grid, and in the process, raised thousands of real US dollars for numerous charities. Starting life as the West of Ireland Library and Cultural Centre, a part of the West of Ireland Charity Estate, the Library has, from the beginning, sought to create a different kind of Library from others found in virtual spaces.

Rather that establish a virtual place where the written word might be read – generally via note card, which has its own limited formatting issues – the Library’s Founder, Derry McMahon decided to offer a presence where stories – original, short or long, novels, poems, great works, classic tales, and fables from all genres could be shared live, in voice; the intimacy of a well told story bringing an added dimension and depth to the listener’s experience, further stirring their imagination.

From the telling of its first story in March 2008, Seanchai has grown to become the foremost voice storytelling group in Second Life. In 2010, the Library joined the Community Virtual Library (CVL) estate in Second Life, where it officially adopted the name Seanchai (pr. Shawn-a-kee – A traditional Irish storyteller/historian) Library. Since then, Seanchai has expanded its programme and virtual presence.  Notable points in the Library’s history include:

  • (2014) Expanded to the OpenSim / Hypergrid enabled Kitely, offering a range of programmes and events to a broad audience of virtual world users.
  • (2014) presented the first virtual / physical world presentation in what would become their EXPLORE programme to build partnerships with educational and arts institutions to use virtual platforms as tools for audience development, education, exploration, dramaturgy, and more. Explore The Great Gatsby, presented via Kitely and in partnership with the Tacoma Little Theatre (TLT), in Tacoma, Washington state. To date, three such programmes have been produced, with more in the planning stages pending funding.
  • (2015) In partnership with CVL, Seanchai Library established a presence on (the now defunct) InWorldz grid, which operated for two years prior to both CVL and Seanchai withdrawing from InWorldz.
  • (2017) Seanchai Library relocated to Holly Kai Park as part of the integrated arts programming at the Park.

Over the years, Seanchai has made numerous immersive storytelling presentations across Second Life, in addition to their Sunday-through-Thursday sessions hosted at their headquarters. These have included presentations of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, an annual trip to Victorian England with The Dickens Project, special events so celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, International Talk Like a Priate Day and more. They have shared their talents with numerous groups and events across Second Life.

Today, Seanchai Library remains as productive as ever, offering anyone in Second Life the opportunity to enjoy the long tradition of spoken-word stories from all genres, as read by their talented staff, volunteers and guests.

Seanchai library celebrates 12 years of storytelling

To mark their 12th anniversary, Seanchai Library is offering a mix of stories and music through the afternoon of Sunday, March 22d, the programme comprising:

  • From 13:00 SLT – Volume 12: 
    • Shandon Loring reads The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Edwards.
    • Elrik Merlin an Da5id Abbot with Trouble in the Works by Harold Pinter.
    • Kayden Oconnell and Caledonia Skytower with The Seller of Dreams by Henry Beston.
    • Corwyn Allen with Dr. and Mrs. Watson at Home: a Comedy in One Unnatural Act by Loren D. Estleman.
    • Aoife Lorefield with Selected Poetry.
  • 14:00-15:00 SLT – Radio Riel DJ Challenge #4 – Celtic: music & Dancing in Ceiliuradh Glen as three DJ’s take three different views of the theme, broadcasting from The Glen on Radio Riel:
    • 14:00:Elrik Merlin.
    • 15:00: Ktadhn Vesuvino.
    • 16:00: Gabrielle Riel.

Seanchai in the Coming Week

And why not join Senachai Library during their normal weekly schedule. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, March 22nd, 18:30: The Secret Garden

Caledonia Skytower continues this classic of children’s literature  by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in 1911, at the Golden Horseshoe in Magicland Park.

Orphaned after losing her parents in a cholera epidemic, young Mary Lennox returns to England from India, entering the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met.

Up until this point, Mary’s childhood had not been happy; her parents were selfish and self-seeking, regarding her as a burden over which they were not obliged to hold much responsibility. Not overly healthy herself, she is as a result  a temperamental, stubborn and unmistakably rude child – and her arrival at Misselthwaite Manor and the relative gloom of Yorkshire’s weather does little to improve her mein.

Her disposition also isn’t helped by her uncle, who is strict and uncompromising, leading to Mary despising him. But her uncle’s story is itself filled with tragedy, particularly the loss of his wife. As she learns more about her uncle’s past, so Mary also finds out about a walled garden Mrs. Craven once kept, separated from the rest of the grounds and which, since her passing has been kept locked by Mary’s uncle, the door leading to it kept locked, the key to it buried somewhere. 

Finding the missing key and the now hidden door, Mary enters the garden, and her passage into it starts her on a journey of friendship and discovery, one that leads her to the thing she never really knew: family.

Monday, March 23rd 19:00: The Ugly Little Boy

Gyro Muggins reads a tale that started life as a short story by Isaac Asimov, and was later expanded into a full length novel by Asimov writing in collaboration with Robert Silverberg.

A 21st century time travel experiment results in a Neanderthal boy being pulled from his time. The intention is to study the boy and understand how his kind lived. However because of the potential for time paradoxes, the boy must be kept in a within a stasis module, a place physically separated from modern time; but he must still be cared for. So the company behind the experiment hires a children’s nurse, Edith Fellowes, to look after him.

Initially horrified by the child, Edith comes to forms a bond with him, discovering he is intelligent and capable of both learning and love. However, to Stasis – the company behind the experiment – the boy is little more than a commodity to be observed and with a story to be sold to the media. As such, he is only of value for as long as there is public interest in his story. When that fades, the company determines the child must be returned to his own time, his place to be taken by a subject from another era. But Edith knows that, thanks to all she has taught him, his own time is no longer a place he is equipped to survive within, and determines she must take action to protect him.

Tuesday, March 24th 19:00: Goblin Lake

During the Thirty Years’ War, a soldier named (of course) Jack is, for a prank, thrown into a lake whose waters are said to change anything they touch. Beneath the surface, Jack finds a whole other world where time passes rather differently, falls in love with the king of the lake’s daughter.

But – what is fiction, and what is reality?

With Willow Moonfire.

Wednesday, March 25th, 19:00: The Phantom Tollbooth

Finn Zeddmore reads Norton Juster’s fantasy adventure for younger readers.

For Milo, everything is a bore and all activities little more than a waste of time. Then one day he arrives home in his usual state of disinterest, only to find a package waiting for him. He has no idea where it has come from or who might have sent it, but is clearly intended for him, given the label. Opening it, he discovers a small tollbooth and a map of “the Lands Beyond,” illustrating the Kingdom of Wisdom.

Reading the limited instructions – that warn him to have a destination from the map in mind – and thinking the package to be some kind of game, he sets the tollbooth up, decides Dictionopolis should be his destination, and propels the accompanying little car through the tollbooth.

Immediately he finds himself driving an actual car through a city that is clearly not his own. Here he discovers he must remain focused, lest his thoughts wander, and his journey wanders as well; a lesson he only discovers when he does daydream and finds himself in the Doldrums.

Also as he travels and meets new friends, so he also realises something else: life is far from boring or dull; it actually offers much to be discovered.

Thursday, March 26th

19:00: Bane and Balm, A Fae Tale of Eire

Shandon Loring reads Jenna Elizabeth’s Johnson’s short story. Also in Kitely!  Find teleport from the main Seanchai World

21:00 Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi-Fantasy with Finn Zeddmore featuring stories from sources including Escape Pod, Light Speed, and Clarkesworld on-line magazines.

A lighthouse for the imagination in Second Life

Lighthouse IMAGINATION, March 2020 – click any image for full size

We were drawn to ARNICAR India’s build of Lighthouse IMAGINATION, located on her Homestead region of Everlong, through another recommendation from Shawn Shakespeare, and it presents a truly marvellous, atmospheric location. Sitting beneath a cloud-marbled  evening sky (although I’ve admittedly used an alternate sky setting in the images here), it is a windswept place, largely denuded of trees, rich in detail and the kind of setting that calls on you to stay and immerse yourself in its wild beauty.

The island rises from a slightly troubled sea, waves breaking over offshore groups of rocks, a skirt of gravel coast sitting between waves and the rising rocky face of the island, the undulating back of which is covered in moss-like grass. It’s a place that is home to less than a dozen trees, many of which are wizened with aged, backs bent as if curled against the winds that must surely wail across this lozenge-like landscape when the weather turns. Shrubs fair better than trees here, cliff edges and the rills between rock tops heavy with their greenery even as finger of bushes stretch out across flatter parts of the island’s top.

Lighthouse IMAGINATION, March 2020

This is a place dominated by a single structure: a massive brick-built lighthouse that stands firm upon a great stone foot anchored at the island’s northern end. The multi-faceted eye of this massive industrial-looking place turns unblinkingly, warning away the ships that can be seen to sail slowly by, their outlines softened by off-shore mists, and that might otherwise stray to close to the dangers posed by the rocks lurking beneath the waves.

The Lighthouse is a place that again speaks to the dark moods of nature that can perhaps lash this island: the great stone footings, the heavy brick walls, the use of iron girders and steel plates rather than wooden stairs and platforms to provide ways up to the lighthouse and around its tower to the light. Both metal and steel may be rusted, but they are robustly bolted together and embedded in the walls of the lighthouse, ready to stand firm against whatever Nature might throw at them – although it’s hard not to feel pity for the lighthouse warden who has to travel the exposed, curling path up to the light in times of storm…

Lighthouse IMAGINATION, March 2020

To compensate for such times, the interior of the lighthouse is warmly furnished and equipped. A cast iron stove heats the main living room, a second, wood-burning stove likewise heating the room above and to one side of it while the third offers creature comforts: ale, billiards and a chance to forget what’s outside should the weather turn.

Getting around the top of the island  is assisted by an old bridge and lashed trunks of fallen trees, all of which span the rills and cuts that divide the land. However, getting down to the shoreline is a little harder (indeed, getting up and into the lighthouse can be a bit of a challenge); explorers need to find the appropriate points in the island’s flanks where the rocks dip to provide natural trails down to the surrounding ribbon of gravel.

Lighthouse IMAGINATION, March 2020

It’s worth taking the time to find these paths down and exploring the island’s narrow coast, as both will reveal more of its secrets and beautiful detail; places to sit, owls, birds and waterfowl to observe, sheep to wander past, a shoreline photographer to slip but without disturbing – and more.

These delights extend offshore as well, both to the south-east and to the west. At both of these points, paths are marked through the shallows. One of these leads to a wooden birdwatcher’s nest perched on an outcrop of rock and raised above the risk of tidal flooding and the annoyance of waves and spray by stout wooden legs. It is a cosy little place, rich in art and ideal for escaping other island tourists – or for observing them from a distance.

Lighthouse IMAGINATION, March 2020

The second path, marked by two of Cica Ghost’s ducks walking it, points to a tiny offshore setting that is an absolute delight: a partially sunken garden terrace, home to a grand piano sheltered by another aged tree, a chandelier hanging from one of its boughs. This is a totally unexpected setting to come across, utterly serene and offering a further nuanced depth to the region.

Quite marvellously designed, enriched by the local sound scape, offering much to explore whilst keeping a wonderfully desolate beauty, Lighthouse IMAGINATION is a fabulous visit – one bound to set your own imagination free.

Lighthouse IMAGINATION, March 2020

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