Sunday, August 31, 2008

Timpanogos Storytelling Festival

This weekend I attended the Timpanogas Storytelling Festival, and it was FABULOUS! There's something magical about finding yourself totally engaged and immersed in a story...it's like watching a movie, except better, because the images are playing directly in your head.

One of my favorite tellers was Kevin Kling. He's a young man from Minnesota, who could be a stand-up comic. He had us rolling in the aisles as he told about his experience of running a marathon without bothering to train for it. He told about going to a baseball game with his buddies, and them making a bet about whether a particular teenage spectator a few rows away would lick the last of the nacho cheese directly out the container when he finished the chips. They bet money on it, and then other guys nearby wanted a piece of the action, and then the bet spread throughout the stadium like wildfire, with all eyes, even the baseball players, eventually on the "young man of destiny"...who did happen to lick the last of the cheese out of the container to a great cheer from the crowd!

I loved Kevin's fun sense of humor, but then was also touched by his humanity. He is disabled, born with an incomplete left hand and arm. Later, he was in a motorcycle accident that severed the nerves going to his right arm. In a tender, moving, and humorous way, he talked about being in a coma, how frustrating it is to be disabled, and how various people react to him. He said that once something is broken...whether it be our arms or our hearts or other parts of our lives...the truth is that that broken part will never be the same again. But, as we work around our broken parts, we find that we develop in other, unexpected areas, and that we still have the opportunity to choose what we'll be.

I loved Rex Ellis, a black man who had worked at Williamsburg Virginia and at the Smithsonian. He told stories from his childhood, about his attempts to woo a girl in his 4th grade class, and about how he came to God (when as a child he broke the screen door for a second time and was sure his father was going to kill him!). During one hour, he played on his banjo, preached a sermon on liberty that had been given to slaves before the civil war, and then shared an African prayer. He told a true story about a slave who escaped by being nailed in a wooden box and getting mailed to Philadelphia...he told the story by relating the dialog between the slave and his mother as he planned the escape. His mother thought he was crazy and didn't want him to go. He reassured her, and told her that the first thing he would do when he got out of that box, was sing a song for her. And, the history books show that that's exactly what he did.

Carmen Deedy is a little spunky Cuban woman, who grew up in the American South and used several accents...Cuban, Appalachian, refined Georgian lady, and others...as she told hilarious stories about her life there.


Two of the storytellers were also mimes....Motoko is a young Japanese lady and had us laughing our heads off at the stories she told as she mimed the actions. Antonio Rocha is a Brazilian of African descent who told several Africa-related stories...I was amazed at his ability to move like an animal so much that you believed it as he told his stories. One of his stories used no words at all...it was a pantomime of a fearful flier on an airplane, and was hilarious.


There are too many tellers to tell about, so I'll just have to say that I highly recommend this event. It's held in Orem every Labor Day weekend. It's going to be my new Labor Day tradition....maybe I'll see you there sometime!

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