I recently had the special privilege of interviewing international storyteller Jim Weiss. I first heard of Jim in the late 90s before my oldest officially started school. “We love these stories,” my friend told me. “You have to hear them, too!” I was so glad I took her advice!
Twenty-five years ago, Jim and his wife Randy formed Greathall Productions. They have since produced 48 recordings, bringing to life classical literature and historical events. These recordings serve as an integral part of the curriculum for many homeschooling families. And it’s so easy to pop one in a CD player and learn about Lewis and Clark, Sherlock Holmes, or King Midas. And not just learn about them, but become captivated by the language used to tell their stories. It’s a perfect supplement for the auditory learner – or any type of learner!
Below is the first question in my interview with him. Read on to learn more about Jim, what he does, and how it can benefit your family’s homeschool!
The stories you tell range from true historical events to Greek myths to fables to classic literature. Do you have a favorite subject, genre, or story?
Some authors and storytellers stick to one subject or area, and explore within that area for their entire careers. I can honor that; but one of the elements of my work that I enjoy is the freedom to pursue a subject that is new or different.
The three deciding factors for recording a story: is it a story from classic literature or history; is it a story with some sort of ethical underpinning to it; and is it a story I truly love. If the answer is “yes” to all three, I give myself permission to explore it.
I do love Greek mythology and the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, both because of the vivid characters and the surprising actions. Aesop’s Fables are fun to perform because I can really play with the character voices. I love making the Shakespeare recordings (three, so far,) in part because I feel very at ease with verse/iambic pentameter, and it’s fun to think that I am helping other people to feel that same way while they are enjoying the stories and amazing characters.
Some of my other favorites have been history recordings. A lot of people tell me that Galileo and the Stargazers, which covers the stories of seven science geniuses over two thousand years, is their favorite in the whole Greathall line. You’d be hard-pressed to make up a fictional story to match the swashbuckling adventures of Sir Francis Drake in The Queen’s Pirate, or for that matter, to create such a remarkable woman character as Queen Elizabeth I on that same recording. The American history recordings have been especially rewarding, both because of the great stories and because I think most Americans don’t learn our own nation’s history. I’m working on another of those right now.
What is your favorite recording by Jim Weiss?