"Make stories, not war."
The concept is not as far-fetched as it may seem at first. Especially when master storyteller Don Doyle explains it.
"You can't hate anybody whose stories you know," Doyle said. "If we hear each others' stories from different cultures, from different perspectives, we're bound to better understand each other."
For Doyle, who will bring his entourage of storytellers to Pine this weekend, it's a responsibility he takes very seriously.
"To me, it's important to help people feel different about themselves and about the world (than they did) before they heard that story," he said. "I like to leave them changed a bit, and so I'm careful about the stories I choose.
"I feel I have an obligation to leave people in a different space if I can and help them think about something deeper, (to give them) something they can hang onto later if they want."
The key words are "if they want," because Doyle believes the listener bears as much responsibility as the teller.
"You have to bring a mental alertness and a willingness to engage," he said. "And, yes, an open mind to be carried on a journey, sometimes literally, but always mentally -- someplace where you can look at something in a different way, but always be entertained."
That shouldn't be too difficult Saturday night at the Pine Cultural Hall where Doyle is staging the seventh annual Pine Tellabration! The event begins at 7 p.m.
Valley storytellers Dorothy Daniels Anderson, Douglas Bland, Liz Warren and Ricardo Provencio will join Doyle on stage. Anderson appears in costume and tells first-person stories of Arizona women, Bland relates original life-experience stories that are often twists on ancient tales, Warren is noted for stories that reflect "the heroic journey of personal transformation," and Provencio is "a very good Latino teller," Doyle said.
Appearing for the first time in Pine are Marilyn Torres, a Phoenix teacher and traditional Mexican storyteller, and Tony Norris of Flagstaff, a folk singer and storyteller.
"There isn't a folk song he doesn't know," Doyle said.
The Pine audience is also in for a special surprise in the person of nationally known storyteller Susan Klein, who just happens to be visiting the Doyles and has agreed to tell a story. She is from Martha's Vineyard.
The Rim Country will join with communities worldwide in celebrating the art and power of storytelling as similar events are being held in small and large towns around the world.
"The Saturday before Thanksgiving is the traditional day to hold storytelling events," Doyle said. Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale and Sedona are among the Arizona communities holding storytelling events Saturday night.
While storytelling is an ancient art form that predates the printed word, Doyle said it almost became a lost art until its revival over the course of the past three decades.
"Before people had a written language, they would come back and tell stories of hunts and battles, successes and failures," he said. "Before television, small communities often got together and told stories. It was a way of talking about the past and letting people know who you are. We still should be doing that."
The storytelling renaissance began with a nationwide storytelling event in Jonesboro, Tenn. 30 years ago. Today, every state in the country, and many other nations, have storytelling organizations and hold storytelling festivals.
Doyle says that storytelling at this level is not intended for very young children.
"Our Tellabration audiences tend to be adults, but children who are in fourth grade and up will also enjoy the experience," he said.
All seats are $5, and tickets can be purchased at the door.
All proceeds from this year's Tellabration! go to the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library to fund activities for children.
If part-time Pine resident Don Doyle's annual appearance at the Pine Tellabration! isn't enough for you, try to catch one of the theater productions he is involved in this year.
- "Fiddler on the Roof at the Hale Centre Theatre (in the round) in Gilbert opens in February.
- "Sarah, Plain and Tall" at the Mesa Arts Center opens in April
- "Brigadoon" at the Hale Centre Theatre opens in October.
"I'm still doing storytelling, but it's not the only thing I'm doing anymore," Doyle said. "I'm doing more theater right now -- I'm directing -- which is my roots."