Tellers Of Tales

COVER STORY

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Doubtless, if you have blown enough candles on your birthday to be teased about needing a fire hose to blow them out, you have heard tales of midlife crisis.

Ah, but have you heard of quarter-life crisis?

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Animation and the gift of weaving pictures with words are the tools of the trade of storytellers. Some of the best will share their talents at the upcoming Tellabration in Pine to benefit the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library.

A quarter-aged glamour girl, Kindra Gayle, will regale her listeners with a fresh outlook on this alleged problem on stage at the Rim Country's annual Tellabration.

"I try to find stories of honesty that everyone experiences, either now or at some point -- the little frustrations of life to the big speed bumps in the road," Gayle said.

"Many people have more years on me, but we all have the same types of problems," she said.

Tellabration is an annual international event, the Saturday before Thanksgiving when people come together as storytellers and listeners.

"Storytelling is one way we can make a difference in understanding people from other cultures," said event organizer and teller, Don Doyle. "I don't think you can hate anyone whose stories you know."

Winter, with the harvest in and its shortened hours of daylight, is the traditional time for folk to gather around the hearthfire (or the more modern kitchen table) and listen to a charismatic bard spin a tale of life.

The perky young woman has been telling tales since the fifth grade. She grew up in a small town in Minnesota north of the Twin Cities and storytelling was part of her teacher's lesson plan.

"I loved telling and I never stopped," said Gayle who has told in Tennessee, Minnesota and Washington, as well as Arizona.

She is a board member of the National Storytelling Network.

Gayle is one of six master tellers who will share the power and art of stories with their audience at the Pine Cultural Hall at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. Tickets are $5 and are available in advance at Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library in Pine and at the door.

Victor McCraw is coming to the Pine stage for the first time. He will tell a personal story of growing up in Washington, one he uses when he is teaching cultural diversity at the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy.

McCraw's humorous, insightful stories, whether fairy tales, legends or reality tales are about the funny and not so funny things that happen when people try to communicate. He has been telling since 2000.

"Usually I am more humorous with adults," he said. "With kids, I have to watch what I say. Even the tellers of the sixteenth century legends were not too concerned about kids with their content."

Dorothy Anderson has told her tales of Arizona pioneer women dressed in costume at a few Tellabrations.

Ricardo Provincio, a professor at South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute in Phoenix is returning this year as well. Provincio had audiences in stitches last year with his bilingual story of family.

Liz Warren, a fourth generation native of Gilbert, who was "born in Florence for no apparent reason," is taking a quick break from writing her book on storytelling to once again perform for the Rim Country.

She is still trying to decide what tale to tell, but it will most likely be a folk tale of Janet Tucker, adapted to Arizona.

"I tell all -- the full gamut, myth, folk and family," Warren said. She is best known for her mythology stories.

Warren heard a storyteller at a care center in the early ‘90s.

"I thought, this is world class. Why don't I know anything about this?" she said.

So, she talked to some colleagues at (SMCC), and they organized classes.

Laughter is important to telling because it "opens the heart" and often, deeper meanings people otherwise might not hear can be dressed-up in laughter.

Most tellers have the capacity to evoke a range of emotion and that is an integral part of the entertainment, she said.

Besides Warren admitted, "I always wanted to perform."

Also returning is Doug Bland to tell about a man he met who fed and housed himself while impersonating different religious leaders.

"My grandma was a wonderful storyteller," he said.

He didn't pay attention at the time, but in graduate school he rediscovered the muse.

Telling helps Bland reach out to people -- he is a Christian pastor.

"Counseling is helping people put their stories back together," he said.

"Being on stage is a cooperative effort between the teller and the listener," Bland said. "I throw out words and the listeners take and use them like paint to create their own images."

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