By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma History Center has announced that it will host the highly anticipated 35th annual Storytelling Festival August 27–29 in collaboration with Arts Council Oklahoma City.
The event begins on Thursday, August 27, at 7 p.m. in the Devon Great Hall with the last teller performing on Saturday, August 29, at 8 p.m.
Named one of the best places to hear or tell a tale, the Festival will feature three internationally acclaimed storytellers, Charlotte Blake Alston, Megan Wells and Jim May.
The event will have three evening performances, one family matinee and a number of workshops.
Alston has been actively sharing stories full time now for 25 years. She has performed internationally in venues ranging from the Kennedy Center to prisons. She focuses her craft on traditional and contemporary stories from African and African American oral and cultural traditions. Her repertoire includes music played on instruments from the African culture
“I made a decision when I was a classroom teacher that I would step away from the classroom,” Alston said. “I was past 40 asking some of the larger than life questions.
“Learning that transmission (of stories} for hundreds and hundreds of years was the way in which the history of your people was passed on and preserved throughout time,” Alston continued.
“It was that desire to have the gap of information about my background filled in for me and to share the richness of that. I’m inspired by that all the time and by the way in which people perceive the stories,” Aston said.
Wells is an award-winning actress and director who brings her theatrical background to her approach to storytelling. Her most well-known presentation is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in addition to her interpretations of fairytales, historical tales and personal narratives.
“Whether in costume or without costume, I have 186 stories to mix and match for your venue or your curriculum,” Wells says.
May, an Emmy award-winning storyteller, comes to the festival with more than 25 years of experience “spinning a yarn.” He has performed nationally and internationally. His expertise is recounting personal stories as well as “ghost stories.”
“For some twenty-five years now, I have made my living as a professional, full time storyteller,” May stated. “That storytelling produces a singular, intensely vital experience in my listener’s imagination which continues to be reinforced nearly every day of my professional storytelling life.”
Tickets and workshop passes can be purchased at www.artscouncilokc.com, by calling 405-270-4848, or at the door. Workshop passes for Friday and Saturday are $50 and single workshop passes are $10.
There is no charge for the Saturday morning family matinee. The festival is part of the Arts Council Oklahoma City’s mission to bring the arts and the community together.
The Arts Council OKC initiative provides free arts events in downtown OKC each workday from 12 – 1 p.m. Events may include artist demonstrations or musical performances, and take place in various downtown locations.
The daily line-up features a wide range of artistic mediums including musical and theater performances, live art demonstrations, short film selections, to name a few.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and an accredited member of the American Association of Museums.
Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS, which collects, preserves and shares the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma.
The OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma.