Storytellers Share Tall Tales In Pine Saturday


The Rim country will join with communities worldwide in celebrating the art and power of storytelling at 7 p.m. Saturday as the third annual Tellabration! takes place at Pine Cultural Hall.

Similar storytelling events dubbed Tellebration 2001! will be held the same evening in cities and towns around the world.

"At the same time we're sharing stories here in the Rim country, people all over the globe will be telling and listening to their own tales," Don Doyle, a local storyteller who is producing the Pine event, said. "It's exhilarating to know we'll be part of a worldwide celebration right here in our community. For people who have never experienced a storytelling performance, this will be a great opportunity."

Besides Doyle, local cowboy poet and storyteller Dee Strickland Johnson, who performs as Buckshot Dot, is also on the bill.

"Storytelling is one of the oldest art forms in the world," Doyle, a retired Arizona State University theater instructor, said. "Before people had a written language, they would come back and tell stories of hunts and battles, successes and failures. Many of us tell stories from our own personal lives as well as folk tales."

While Johnson, who was raised on Indian reservations, tells stories of the old West, Doyle's stories often reflect his Celtic heritage.

Other storytellers appearing Saturday night include Dennis Freeman, whose stories are often based on his war experiences; Dorothy Daniels Anderson, who appears in costume and tells first-person stories of Arizona women who have made a difference; Douglas Bland, whose original life-experience stories are often twists on ancient tales; and Liz Warren, who is noted for her stories reflecting the heroic journey of personal transformation.

Doyle, who founded Phoenix Little Theater, began his storytelling career in the classrooms of fellow ASU instructors.

"I always did a unit on storytelling when I taught theater," he said. "Then one day, a fellow teacher said she'd give me $25 to come to her class and tell some stories. When I got home that night, there was an invitation from the teacher next door, so I began telling stories part time."

When he retired from ASU in 1991, Doyle became a full-time storyteller. While he has raised the price a bit over the years, Doyle emphasizes that he's not in it for the money.

"It makes me rich in other ways," he said. "I used storytelling as a tool when I was teaching creative drama, but I eventually realized the power it has as an art form. Storytelling can reach people in wonderful, life-changing ways."

Doyle says that storytelling at this level is not intended for very young children.

All seats are $5, and tickets can be purchased at the door. Proceeds go to support a full-blown storytelling festival scheduled for the Rim country in 2003.

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