To bring home the power of storytelling, Don Doyle tells about the time he was telling "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" to a group of kindergartners.
"We put the tables together to make a bridge and we had three goats and many, many trolls," Doyle said. "We played out the story and the baby and the momma got across all right, but when it came time for the papa goat to get across, I asked them how we could keep the trolls from eating him up.
"They suggested all kinds of horrible, violent things. I said, ‘What's another way?' and this little boy, Damian, said ‘Let's put them to sleep'. Somebody else suggested a lullaby. So we all sang ‘Rock-A-Bye Baby' and the trolls all went to sleep."
Doyle will tell you the rest of his first experience teaching a kindergarten class when he and his fellow storytellers return to the Rim country for the fifth annual Tellabration! at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Pine Cultural Hall. Similar storytelling events -- dubbed Tellabration 2003! -- will be held the same evening in small and large 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," Doyle said. "Last year there were 273 Tellabration sites in this country, so thousands and thousands of people were listening to stories at the exact same time."
Doyle will be joined on stage by Valley storytellers Dorothy Daniels Anderson, Douglas Bland, Liz Warren and Ricardo Provencio. Rounding out the bill are Chuck and Barbara Casey, popular local musicians whose ballads often tell stories.
"Storytelling is one of the oldest art forms in the world," Doyle 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."
The founder of Phoenix Little Theater and an Arizona State University professor, Doyle became a full-time storyteller when he retired from ASU in 1991.
"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."
Storytelling also encourages people to tell their own stories.
"It helps people to begin to tell their own stories to their families that need to know those stories to help them know who they are," Doyle said.
Educators are discovering that storytelling also has therapeutic applications.
"A lot of people are now taking storytelling into nursing homes, hospitals -- not just to take their minds off their own problems, but to help them identify with positive things," Doyle said.
But storytelling at this level is not intended for very young children. "Our audiences tend to be adults, but children who are in fourth grade and up will also enjoy the experience," he said.
The Pine Tellabration has increased in popularity each year.
"It's grown from 50 five years ago to over 200 last year, and this year we have 75 extra chairs, so we're hoping we can fill those," Doyle said. "It's exciting to see it grow like that and people seem to have a wonderful time."
All seats are $5, and tickets can be purchased at the door, with proceeds going to the Pine-Strawberry Archeological & Historical Society.
- Don Doyle has been telling stories to children and adults for more than 30 years. As a professional storyteller for the last 15 years, he is nationally recognized in his field.
- Dorothy Daniels Anderson spins fabulous true stories about the early days of Arizona.
- Douglas Bland is a pastor as well as a storyteller. His original life-experience stories and new twists on ancient tales feed the soul and tickle the funny bone.
- Ricardo Provencia is a counselor, teacher and storyteller. He tells personal stories, myths and trickster tales that paint vivid images of his Latino culture.
- Liz Warren tells a variety of stories, but finds herself returning to those that reflect the heroic journey of personal transformation.
- Chuck Casey and Barbara Kerr-Casey perform professionally as Trouble in Paradise.