Written by Roger McCredie | Photos by Anthony Harden (May 2017)
As social beings we require—we crave—actual association with others. The art of modern storytelling is simply an updated version of a centuries-old tradition.
“Stories are where you go to look for the truth of your own life.”
― Frank Delaney, The Last Storyteller
Once, in my very early days as an advertising copywriter, I slaved over a particular magazine ad for days. I brought to bear everything I had learned about buyer demographics, product features, and unique selling propositions, as well as my own sizzling prose, and I impressed myself with the result. I sent the draft copy up the line, sat back, and waited to be told I was on this year’s list of Addy nominations.
But the creative director sent for me and handed back my draft with a big “X” drawn through it. Noticing my chagrin, he placed a fatherly hand on my shoulder, looked at me with blazing intensity, and whispered, “Tell them a story! Everybody loves a story!”
I’ll come back to that. This is the part where I point out that storytelling is as old as human interaction. As a communication priority, it ranks just behind reaction to environment (cold, heat, rain, darkness) and the expression of need or desire (food, clothing, shelter, sex). And it differs from those in that it moves beyond self-centeredness to the desire to report something to somebody else, to involve another person. It’s a specialized form of communication, a contract between the teller and the listener. The listener agrees to listen; the teller agrees to instruct, to inspire, or to entertain. (The story is continued below – just click on the PDF image.I
SAY IT LOUD!
A Selective Guide to Upcoming Storytelling Events in Western North Carolina
For a comprehensive list of events held around the state, visit the North Carolina Storytelling Guild website at www.ncstoryguild.org/events.html as well as David Joe Miller’s Storytelling Calendar at www.storytellingcalendar.com. In addition, if you know of additional events taking place in the WNC area, please email them at least 6 weeks in advance to email@example.com.
The Teller-in-Residence series comprises weekly events at the International Storytelling Center, in Jonesborough, Tennessee, with a lineup of 26 nationally-known storytellers for matinee and evening performances, as well as special ones for children and the holidays.
North Carolina Storytelling Guild Spring Retreat
A storytelling workshop will be presented at Wildacres Conference Center, in Little Switzerland, by storyteller Alan Hoal. For more information contact: Dianne Hackworth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865.457.3392.
May 11 & 17
David Joe Miller Presents
Popular storyteller Miller, in addition to directing workshops on Storytelling in Business, Storytelling for Adults, and Storytelling for Children, hosts his Word! events and Open Mic! shows (anyone age 16 and older can sign up for 10 minutes of stage time; in April it was at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, with Lee Lindsey) throughout the year, at different locations. On May 11 at 7PM, Word! featuring John Thomas Fowler will be held at the Pack Memorial Library in downtown Asheville, admission is free; on May 17 at 7PM, Word! featuring Doug Elliot and Pete Koschnick takes place at Buffalo Nickel in West Asheville, admission is $15.
May 18 & June 15
The Moth: True Stories Told Live
NYC-based The Moth presents curated events featuring five storytellers (Moth Mainstage), open-mic storytelling open to anyone with a five-minute story (StorySLAM), championship event featuring ten StorySLAM winners (GrandSLAM), plus benefit shows The Moth Ball and the Moth Members’ Show. Asheville is among several other cities around the country that hosts monthly StorySLAMS. Events start at 7PM. The May 18 event’s theme is Karma (“Whether you’re fated for success or doomed for failure, what goes around comes around.”); June 15, Cheating (“Stepping out, crib sheets, tax evasion, or stacked decks. Tricks, swindles, cons, and frauds. Philanders and chiselers and flimflammers, tramps and thieves.”) Held at The Mothlight in West Asheville.
Storytelling Workshop / Made From Scratch
At the Tryon Fine Arts Center, in addition to the 1-4PM afternoon workshop, at 7PM Connie Regan-Blake (an internationally celebrated storyteller) and Tryon’s Dottie Jean Kirk (who has her own popular one-woman show) will team up for Made From Scratch: Serving Up Delicious Southern Stories. Register online (adv. tickets $17).
May 26-October 28
Drawing from a rich oral tradition dating back millennia, the Cherokee Bonfire series runs throughout the tourism season and is described as “an enchanting way to interact with the rich details of the Cherokee people and their stories.” In addition to the bonfire itself, the stories are typically accented and punctuated by the sound of the storyteller’s traditional hand drum. The series is held at 7PM-9PM every Friday and Saturday night, at the Oconaluftee Islands Park, Tsali Blvd., Cherokee. To get more details contact the Cherokee Welcome Center: email@example.com or 800-438-1601.
Feed & Seed Storytelling
Quarterly series, this time directed by storyteller/folk musician Elena Diana Miller. Program is supported by a grant from The Arts Council of Henderson County. Held in the unique Feed & Seed building in Fletcher at 4PM. Contact 828.684.0481, for more information.
July 8, 12, 22, & 29
Stories on Asheville’s Front Porch
Billed as “a variety of tales from other lands and from our home of Western North Carolina” and taking place at Jubilee Community Church in downtown Asheville on consecutive Saturdays, the summer series will include: July 8th: John Thomas Fowler plus Pansy Jo and her clown troupe (The Hop ice cream available for purchase); July 15th: Moonshine in the Mountains with Jon Sundell, Sandra Gudger, and Milton Higgins; July 22nd: World Tales with Daphne Darcy, Kirsten Mitchell, and Walter Ziffer; July 29th: Mountain Tales with Joe Penland, a Madison County native sharing tales and ballads learned at the feet of the old masters. Note that the initial event is specificially geared for children, with clowns and face painting in addition to the storytelling.
National Storytelling Festival
Held annually on the first Friday of October each year, this year’s festival will feature such personalities as Carmen Deedy, Sheila Kay Adams, Josh Goforth, Ben Haggarty, and David Holt. Events include the Ghost Story Concerts (frightening tales under the nighttime sky), the Story Slam! (open to all attendees’ participation), Swappin’ Ground (ditto), and the late-night Midnight Cabaret. Come to the International Storytelling Center, in Jonesborough, Tennessee, for a delight in storytelling.
The Asheville Storytelling Circle
Meets third Monday of each month at 7PM, Asheville Terrace, 200 Tunnel Rd., Asheville. Contact Wallace Shealy, firstname.lastname@example.org or 828.581.4603.
In 2007 Laura Hope-Gill of Lenoir-Rhyne University founded the first Asheville Wordfest featuring readings, workshops, and open mic contests. It’s now a much-anticipated annual event. The 2017 Wordfest, held last month over the course of six days, offered everything from 25 area writers and poets giving readings (one of Wordfest’s goals is to showcase local talent and community diversity), to national figures leading workshops, to Slam-styled storytelling—notably, eight-time Story Slam winner and Appalachian State University history professor, Ray Christian.
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