Tellabration 2007

Folklore and more in a dry place

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Just as did bards in days of yore, storyteller Doug Bland has traveled far and near to collect tales.

Bland, a Christian minister, visited Ireland and Scotland this past summer on a "Living Waters" sabbatical.

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Dee Strickland Johnson aka Buckshot Dot. Johnson is only one of several storytellers performing in Pine Nov. 17 as part of Tellabration.

"My plan is to tell stories I collected... the folklore in Ireland, that very wet place," he said.

By contrast, when Bland returned to Arizona, he visited Hopi and Navajo reservations and collected "stories of water in that very dry place."

Bland is one of seven tellers at the 2007 Tellabration in Pine. The event is an annual celebration of the art a storyteller captures in word and movement, each time they draw their audience into their fictional or non-fictional world.

Liz Warren returns to Pine to tell the tale of Josie, a goat.

Warren recalls her grandmother as "a great, fun storyteller." As a child Warren wished she could do that. While in college in the mid-1990s Warren picked up the thread of the dream, as she wondered how storytelling could be integrated into learning.

She, Lorraine Calbow, Ricardo Provincio and LynnAnn Wojciechowicz, created what is currently a 30-credit certificate program in storytelling at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix.

Provincio is also a teller at the event Saturday evening.

"What I like about Ricardo's stories is that they are so accessible. Ricardo has a wonderful ability to relate to people and when they hear him, they feel like he is telling a story just for them," Warren said.

Folk who have lived in the Rim Country or attended Cowboy Poetry Festivals may recognize the name "Buckshot Dot," as the stage name of poet, guitarist and singer Dee Strickland Johnson.

Don Doyle, organizer of Tellabration in Pine recently heard Buckshot Dot's latest poem, "Duct tape, Baling wire, Chewing Gum and Spit" while sitting on the lawn at the Mesa Storytelling Festival.

"It was an incredibly funny story," Doyle said.

"One More Dance" and "Get Your Foot Off My Tostada" are other poems Buckshot Dot said she might share with the audience.

Dorothy Anderson has only missed one year of the eight Tellabration has been going on in Pine.

"We get such a fascinating group of people in Pine. I love the dinner before the theater, because it gives me an opportunity to meet people," she said.

(Editor's note: the dinner is sold out.)

Dressed as a flapper in a costume she said, "Will knock your socks off," Anderson aims to take the audience back to 1927 when Louis B. Mayer decided he needed a trademark to advertise his movie studio.

"When the Lion Fell from the Sky" is the story of MGM's roaring lion in a golden frame.

Victor McCraw plans to fulfill a request he received from his listeners after he told a personal story at Tellabration 2006.

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Dorothy Anderson has only missed one year of the eight Tellabration has been going on in Pine. Dressed as a flapper in a costume, she said, "Will knock your socks off," Anderson aims to take the audience back to 1927, when Louis B. Mayer decided he needed a trademark to advertise his movie studio. "When the Lion Fell from the Sky" is the story of MGM's roaring lion in a golden frame.

"People told me they liked Victor's style and enjoyed him, so I brought him back," Doyle said.

McCraw calls his new story, "A Tale of Two Hips," but the crux of the story is a surprise.

New to this year's circle of tellers is theater teacher Carol Knarr.

For Knarr, telling a story is different than standing on stage, as an actor delivering a monologue.

"I've memorized the skeleton, the plot, the words and phrases I always want to use in a story, but as a storyteller, I have freedom to embellish and move the parts around. Sometimes the audience reacts to a different part of the story, so I have to edit on the spot," she said.

The story Knarr will be telling in Pine is "My Legacy."

"I have hit the age where I am beginning to question my life. Where do I fit? What have I accomplished? What will be my legacy? In short, it speaks of the joys and challenges of teaching and a particular student who touched my heart," Knarr said.

Knarr's specialty is African and Haitian folktales. The Midwest girl lived in Haiti in 1984 as a missionary.

"I had never been a minority. I had never been part of a tribe. I liked being absorbed so completely in a different culture," Knarr said.

Tellabration is a national event traditionally held the Saturday before the American Thanksgiving.

J. G. Pinkerton originated the idea in 1987. In 1988, the Connecticut Storytelling Center launched the first community storytelling events.

For more information on storytelling or 2007 Tellabration artists, check out these Web sites:

www.tellabration.org

www.don-doyle.com

www.buckshotdot.com

www.dorothyanderson.com

www.dougbland.com

http://eport.maricopa.edu/storytelling/

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http://eport.maricopa.edu/storytelling/

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