When Susan Marie Frontczak told her friends she was leaving her lucrative job as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard to become a professional storyteller, they thought she was crazy. Frontczak didn't care. She wanted to find out if her passion could support her.
"My background in science told me that when you don't know the answer to a question, you do an experiment to get the answer, and no matter what happens, you succeed because you find out the answer," she says.
After her yearlong experiment, the answer was yes, she could support herself albeit with an 80 percent cut in salary. In workshops on storytelling and performances at libraries, schools and house parties, she shares the stories that have influenced her to follow her passion. She tells about Eleanor Roosevelt's humanism, Marie Curie's focus on science, and Mary Shelley's devotion to literature.
She says their stories mean a lot to her as evidenced by the rising and falling of her voice and a cadence that picks up as her enthusiasm builds because they have taught her such strong lessons about life.
Sometimes Frontczak becomes so engrossed in telling the stories that she doesn't realize she's affecting the audience.
"There was a story about a fiddler, and I just loved the story, and I didn't know why," she says. "It moved me so much that in sharing it, it happened to move others. I was so shocked to look around the room and see these men and women with tears rolling down their cheeks."
2006 Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival and Workshops
The Wildlife Experience Museum, 10035 S. Peoria St., Parker; Palmer Lake Elementary School, 115 Upper Glenway, Palmer Lake.
July 28, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Parker; July 29, 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Palmer Lake.
Tickets: $25 for children, $44 for adults; individual events start at $5. Visit colo-performingartists.com or call 866/462-1727.