Getting up early on a Saturday isn’t something you’d often find me doing without a snide growl for such cruelty a world, but if every Saturday were a Tellebration I’d blitz out of bed at 7 am with the gusto of a mallrat mom on black Friday. Tellebration is an annual all-day storytelling event hosted by the Northstar Storytelling League. The morning and afternoon featured open mics, workshops, a family friendly story telling room, performances by local and regional artists, and even a liars contest all for the price of pocket lint. My afternoon at Tellebration started out with a string of open mics. Open mic hosts from around the Twin Cities, including Desdamona of The Poets Groove, Leslie Ball of BALLS Cabaret, and Patrick Scully of Patricks Cabaret, shared their stories and experiences as hosts. In turn, they each used their unabashed command to coax audience members up to the stage to tell their stories. In true open mic fashion any and all kinds of stories where heard, from folk tales to poems to rants to long winded jokes.
Next, I headed up stairs for Tales on the Edge, produced by Tom Cassidy. Tom and a team of outlandish story tellers, including Ezra Stead and Kay Kirscht, and took their turn at the mic. The set ended with a fifteen minute group piece only rehearsed moments before compiled from letters Tom had received as an editor of an anything goes literary magazine that promised to publish all submissions. The concept may sound like it would solder you chin to your clavicle, but the performers showed us a rollicking good time. I laughed my way through the whole fifteen minutes.
The evening concert served up a good two hours of story telling. Katie Knutson, president of Northstar Storytelling league opened the event by awarding the story stick, an annual tradition, to Michael Mann and Nancy Donoval, and then setting up the evening with the over arching theme she had assigned our evening orators, Hansel and Gretel. Katie had challenged the tellers to apply their lives to a traditional story, non-surprisingly, the results where varied and rich.
Sara Boyle Trautner opened the event. Her story took on the perspective of the stepmom, who in the traditional story, convinces the father to abandon Hansel and Gretel in the woods. Sara painted us a beautiful contemporary tragedy complete with a navy-pier ferris wheel, adjustable rate mortgages, and text message relationships and a sympathetic antagonist.
Katie presented Alison Bergblom Johnson, the newest member to the Northstar Storytellers who focuses her stories around memoir. Alison grabbed our attention with a relatable story about a divorce torn family that dug deep into personal emotions and was gleefully entertaining throughout.
Rik Reppe stole my heart and left me thirsty. He quieted the room with a beautiful story about a woman on the verge of giving up as she looses her husband to early on set Alzheimer’s. He left me wishing I could call him daddy, in the most chaste of ways. Just so I could have him there sitting on the edge of my bed every night, lulling me to sleep with a story.
Khary Jackson brought the best comedy and performance to the stage. He shared a series of three poems, including an Open Letter to the Brothers Grimm From Walt Disney that questioned the false happy endings we are all raised on and a poem that left my head full of inappropriate thoughts about Hansel and Gretel.
Speaking of Disney bastardizing legends, Katherine Glover told us her much better version of the Mulan story, in which the tomboy disguised as a boy loves a woman rather than a man, in whom she discovers her muse. Katherine’s warm voice and corner smile melded the sacrifice for art and the struggle for our right to love where we will together throughout her story.
Rachel Nelson finished off the night with a tale about a hermit widow who takes in two lost children. Rachel accented her story throughout with cries and chirps from her violin. I found her energy and musical accompaniment to be the most emblematic of oral tradition of all the tellers.
All in all, it was a fulfilling day for a word lover, and I hardly even saw the tip of the iceberg!
See more images of Tellebration in Cole’s flickr set