By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s 34th Annual Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival will be held at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 21-23.
Named one of the best places to hear or tell a tale, the Festival celebrates the art of storytelling and features nationally acclaimed tellers, workshops and performances.
One of the originally scheduled storytellers, Harvard School of Education graduate, Syd Lieberman, has canceled due to health reasons.
In his place, Elizabeth Ellis, also known as “the Divine Miss E”will perform. Ellis grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and was a children’s librarian at the Dallas Public Library before becoming a professional storyteller.
Designated an American Masterpiece Touring Artist by the National Endowment for the Arts, Ellis is a winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Storytelling Network, as well as a recipient of the John Henry Faulk Award from the Tejas Storytelling Association and the Circle of Excellence Award from the National Storytelling Network.
“In the last 30 years I have traveled the length and breath of America (and some other places, too) telling stories and trying to help other people become more effective storywriters and storytellers,”said Ellis. “I love to tell stories. In fact, I would rather tell stories than eat when I’m hungry.”
Ellis continued, “But the plain truth is that no matter how much pleasure I take from telling stories myself, nothing can compare with the joy of helping someone else become a stronger and more proficient story crafter.”
Other featured tellers include Donald Davis, a graduate of Duke University Divinity School and a retired Methodist minister. Davis is former chairperson of the Board of Directors for the National Storytelling Association and a featured teller at the Smithsonian Institution.
Davis says storytelling “is not what I do for a living…it is how I do all that I do while I am living.”
A five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars’Contest, artist Bill Lepp has been featured at venues across the nation, including a recent appearance for Comedy Central.
Lyn Ford is a fourth generation nationally recognized Affrilachian (African American heritage and history from Appalachia) storyteller famous for telling her “Home-Fried”tales.
The Storytelling Festival will include three evening performances in the Devon Great Hall geared toward adult audiences as well as one family-friendly matinee.
In addition, workshops are offered Friday and Saturday to help participants hone their own storytelling skills.
On Thursday, Aug. 21, the evening performance will take place at 7 p.m.
On Friday, Aug. 22, workshops will be held from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. There will be an evening performance, 8 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 23 workshops will be offered from 9 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. The family matinee will begin at 4 p.m. A StorySLAM will be held at Urban Roots, 322 N.E. 2 St., from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. with an evening performance, 8 p.m.
Pre-show entertainment will be provided by Casey & Minna.
Each evening there will be a poetry stand featuring Oklahoma City poet and artist Kerri Shadid, who will write free, customized poems for event attendees.
Storytelling Festival performance tickets are $10. Workshop passes are $10 or $25 for the entire day. Both Friday and Saturday workshops are available for $50 and $75 will buy admittance to all festival workshops.
The family matinee ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Festival goers can visit Oklahoma History Center exhibits for free.
A 501c3 non-profit organization, the Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s free and low-cost arts programming, including arts education in schools, reaches one million residents and visitors annually. Program funding comes from generous donors and grants.
For more information, call 405-270-4848. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at artscouncilokc.com.