Noon program to showcase art of storytelling

Foothill guild will spin tales as part of worldwide ‘Tellabration’
By: Laura O’Brien Special to the Journal
-A +A
Four members of the Foothills Storytelling Guild will spin tales Friday at the Friends of the Auburn Library’s Noon Program. The event is a part of “Tellabration,” a celebration of the art of storytelling at more than 400 sites around the country and around the world on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The National Storytelling Network organized the first Tellabration in 1988. Chery Anderson, a relatively new member of the Foothills Storytelling Guild, is the program chair for Friends of the Auburn Library. “Storytelling is kind of in our DNA,” Anderson said. “We pass on information from one generation to another. It’s a good way for children to learn about the ancestors that came before them — what they did and how they did it.” A core group of about nine tellers and a few non-tellers comprise the guild, which current members Joan Stockbridge and Linda Kennedy formed in 2003. During the guild’s semi-annual meeting earlier this month, members practiced stories they will tell Friday. The guild meets about three times a year for a “potluck of stories.” At these gatherings, members workshop their tales and share information about storytelling opportunities. Stockbridge described the many different types of storytelling: There are storylines in films; corporations have stories; individuals have their own personal narratives; and photographs or artwork also can tell stories. “Story is an ancient way of understanding, sharing or making meaning,” she said. “It’s part of community life. It’s part of family life. It can be as simple as what happened on the playground today to ‘Oh, that reminds me of what your grandfather used to do when he came home from work.’” Storytellers employ different techniques depending on the type of stories they tell and where they tell them. Tellers may create voices for different characters or use props or gestures in their stories. Tellers generally do not memorize their stories, Stockbridge said. “It’s a new creation every time,” she said. Stockbridge is a member of the Healing Story Alliance and has written collections of folktales. She shares traditional myths with women in substance abuse programs as a means for helping them find inspiration for their lives. Storytelling is a profession for several of the guild members. Kennedy and fellow guild member Joan McCammon have teamed together as the “Do-Tell Duo.” They perform stories for schools and other organizations using musical instruments such as the ukulele, banjo and washboard and incorporating props such as a wooden man. The women charge a starting hourly fee of $50, which they split. Kennedy is a former schoolteacher and owns 200 volumes of story collections. She said the holidays are a perfect time to preserve those treasured family stories. “You, the adult in your family, are responsible for making sure that any story in your family is recorded,” she said. “If you don’t do it and you leave this earth, so does the story.” Stockbridge highlighted the importance of the human contact found in storytelling. “Share the stories of your life or your family’s life,” she said. “Face-to-face, breath-to-breath communication is really, really powerful. It’s like food for children. They need it.” Stockbridge, Anderson, Kennedy and McCammon will tell a mix of stories at Tellabration, including ethnic tales, regional humor, original pieces and historical stories. The event at the Auburn Library is intended for adults.