Speak Story Series

Season 6

* season six * 2018 *
join us for nine stellar evenings of storytelling

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As Teller-In-Residence, Elizabeth has also made appearances that were not open to the public, including visits to Shepherdstown Day Care, Morgan Academy, Shepherdstown Middle School, Shepherd University,  and a weekend intensive workshop with working storytellers. 

December 10 - 11
2018 Appalachian Heritage

Elizabeth Ellis

Elizabeth Ellis grew up in the Appalachian Mountains in a family of storytellers. Her grandfather, a circuit riding preacher, told stories he had collected in his travels through the mountains. He also shared tales he created to delight his grandchildren. Her aunt was a keeper of the old fairytales that she had learned from her Irish immigrant grandmother. When Elizabeth was a child, her closest friends were imaginary. On some levels that is still true today. 

From the Hans Christian Andersen Statue in New York’s Central Park to the Glistening Waters Festival in New Zealand, Elizabeth has captivated listeners everywhere she goes. She has taken storytelling to a variety of unexpected places, such as the amputee ward at Walter Reed Medical Center and into the work of Public Defenders and the United Way.

She is a repeat favorite at the National Storytelling Festival and has been a Storyteller-in- Residence at the International Storytelling Center. The first recipient of the John Henry Faulk Award from the Tejas Storytelling Association, Elizabeth has served three terms as its President. She has mentored and coached storytellers in Texas and around the nation for forty years. The National Storytelling Network honored her in 1997 with the Circle of Excellence Award which is “given to those recognized nationally by their peers to be master storytellers.”

Monday December 10   
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Join Elizabeth Ellis for a Workshop on Collecting and Crafting Family Stories
Cumberland Room in the Shepherd University Student Center
$40 please register in advance via our website

Tuesday December 11   

Season Six closer! Join Speak Story Series in Reynolds Hal (109 N. King Street)l for an evening celebrating Elizabeth’s life and 40-year career, including highlights, archival audio clips, and a concert by the storyteller herself.

Here are the events from earlier this season:

 Photo Copyright Susan Wilson www.susanwilsonphoto.com

Photo Copyright Susan Wilson

April 10  Motoko

7:30 Reynolds Hall, $12
from Massachusetts
The recipient of the National Storytelling Network's 2017 Circle of Excellence Award, Motoko has performed professionally across the U.S. since 1993. She trained with master mime Tony Montanaro (1927-2002) and renowned Appalachian storyteller Elizabeth Ellis. Motoko's repertoire includes Asian folktales, Rakugo and Zen tales, mime vignettes, as well as personal stories from her childhood in Osaka and her life as an immigrant in the U.S. A dedicated teaching artist, Motoko is the author of A Year in Japan: Folktales, Songs and Art for the Classroom. For more info, check www.folktales.net

Tuesday's program is RAKUGO: Comical Tales from Japan
Award-winning storyteller Motoko regales with hilarious tales from the 17th century Japan. An evening filled with humor, charm, and elegance will bring a fresh pleasure to American audiences.

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May 8  Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo

7:30 Reynolds Hall, $12
from California
Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo is the co-director of Eth-Noh-Tec, a kinetic storytelling theater company in San Francisco dedicated to the blending of music, movement, theater, both traditional and contemporary forms to create a new form of storytelling. Robert's storytelling style is highly influenced by his musical background. He specializes in Asian instruments: Shakuhachi flute (Japan), Ditze flute, and Eshu violin (Chinese) and was the pioneer of the kulintang bronze gong music movement in Northern California since 1979. This interest in percussion awarded him the recipient of the prestigious Folk Arts award from the National Endowment for the Arts to help him forward the research and performance of this indigenous music in the Filipino Community. Spanning over four decades of performing, Robert's work with Eth-Noh-Tec includes concerts in thousands of schools, libraries, community halls and theaters to well over a million people throughout the United States and abroad. Their most notable appearances include Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, Wolftrapp Virginia, the Smithsonian Discovery Theater, and Inaugural Presidential Celebrations for President's Clinton and Obama.

Tuesday's program is Between Shadow and Light: Asian Tales of Wisdom and Woe
For this program Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo of Eth-Noh-Tec will choose Asian Myths and Tales that question: "Where have we come from? What is our Journey? Who are we becoming?". "The Black Hound" (cautionary tale from India), "Tarvaa in The Land of the Dead" (Mongolia), "Four Drums of Destiny" (Myanmar), "A New Pair of Wings" (Filipino American tale of Immigration)... these are just some of the stories offered by this master teller. Drawn from the realm between Asia and Asia America, these narratives, though some from ancient times, offer an inquiry that may shed light upon the brutal vistas of our modernity.

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June 12 Scott Whitehair

7:30 Reynolds Hall
from Illinois
Scott Whitehair is a storyteller, teacher, and producer out of Chicago. He is the producer of This Much Is True, one of the city's longest running personal narrative series, creator of Story Lab Chicago, which has put 500+ new and first time tellers on stage since 2011, and director of Do Not Submit, a citywide grass roots network of open mics bringing neighbors together through story.  Scott tells stories anywhere someone will listen, including theaters, festivals, pubs, and on NPR and the Risk Podcast. His independent storytelling class has been selling out monthly since 2012, and he frequently works with companies, nonprofits, and individuals to help them develop their voices and stories. In 2014, he was the featured instructor at Hong Kong Story Worthy Week, headlined by David Sedaris, and taught an elective on narrative at All Hallows College in Dublin the following year. He is a former board member of The National Storytelling Network, and made his debut at The National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place in 2017. When he is not telling stories, he is most likely riding a bike, grilling out, or sitting in a sauna (actually, he tells stories while doing these things, too.)

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July 10 Dovie Thomason

7:30 Reynolds Hall
from Pennsylvania
Dovie Thomason is an inspiriting storyteller.  She has spent a lifetime gathering and weaving the traditional tales she first heard as a child with stories from her own life into a passionate and compelling vision. She engages audiences with tales that teach about human nature and indigenous worldviews with wry humor, stirring questions and subtle graces that enable a modern appeal with deep cultural roots. Thomason carries the name and the influence of her grandmother, from whom she absorbed stories of her paternal ancestors and 'pan-Indian' stories that her grandmother learned from other children in the boarding school era.  That early relationship with a beloved elder relative has encouraged her to seek out the encouragement and support of elders of many nations which sustains her on her storytelling journey. Thomason considers herself a quilt of mixed backgrounds - Lakota, Plains Apache and Scot Traveller ancestry, urban Chicago and rural Texas, the Internet and Native American elders, family teachings and university classrooms - and draws on those contrasts in her work. Conveying these stories to audiences young and old, indigenous and non-indigenous, with respect and responsibility, is Thomason's vocation. When she adds personal stories and untold histories, the result is a contemporary narrative of Indigenous North America told with elegance, wit and passion. Her storytelling has been featured at countless prominent global events, including the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution/NMAI, London's Barbican, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and festivals from Tennessee to Estonia. She has lent her voice to narrations for the BBC, NPR, PBS, RTE, and the National Parks Service, including the Emmy-winning "Mystic Voices.”

Tuesday's program is How The West Was Spun. 

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August 14  Corinne Stavish

7:30 Reynolds Hall
from Michigan
Applauded and acclaimed as "mesmerizing...capturing the hearts and minds of audiences," Corinne specializes in personal and historical narratives and biblical interpretative tales that are warm and witty, powerful and poignant, enhanced by a varied performing style. She has been featured at the National Storytelling Festival as a teller and frequent emcee and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Storytelling Center. She has been a keynote speaker at the National Storytelling Conference, was a Detroit Jewish Woman Artist of the Year, has four award-winning CDs, contributed to Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul and The Storyteller's Companion to the Bible, and guest-edited Storytelling Magazine. She is a College Professor in Humanities at Lawrence Technological University, recipient of Professor of the Year.

Tuesday's program is When Good People Do Something. With all the horror stories of the Holocaust, we forget sometimes that there were people who responded with integrity and humanity. In one instance, it was an entire country that saved 98% of its Jewish population. This is the remarkable story of occupied Denmark in WWII.

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September 11  Donald Davis

7:30 Reynolds Hall
from North Carolina
Donald Davis was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain world rich in stories. While he heard many traditional stories about Jack and other heroic characters, he was most attracted to the stories of his own family and places of origin.  Davis begin retelling the stories he heard and then adding his own new stories to them until he was repeatedly asked to "tell it again, on purpose."

During his twenty-five year career as a United Methodist Minister, Davis began to use stories more and more.  He was also asked to begin performing at festivals and in other settings until he retired from the church to tell stories full time.

The author of eighteen books and more than forty original recordings, Davis is the recipient of both the Circle of Excellence and the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Storytelling Network.

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October 9  Linda Gorham

7:30 Reynolds Hall
from North Carolina
Linda Gorham's performances are filled with surprising twists and unconventional humor. For the past 25 years, she has engaged audiences with a variety of story styles including notably twisted fairy tales and humorously heartfelt stories about family life. Each performance is infused with Linda's unique, signature 'sophisticated attitude.' She has been featured at the National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference many times. In 2016 Linda was awarded the Distinguished National Service Award by the National Storytelling Network. She also received the Linda Jenkins Brown Nia Award for Service from the National Association of Black Storytellers.

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november 13  Megan Wells 

7:30 Reynolds Hall
from Illinois
Storyteller, actress, and playwright, Megan Wells has shared her epic story experiences for over twenty five years. Winner of three national awards, Megan was recently inducted into the prestigious Circle of Excellence, the National Storytelling Network's award to honor America's best storytellers. Megan's unique voice is a charismatic combination of the dynamics of theater with the unique emotional intimacy of storytelling. With a repertoire of 186+ stories, Megan researches, writes and performs fresh versions of old tales, edited versions of classical literature and living embodiments of vibrant historical characters. Musical collaborations include multiple performances with Steinway Artist Chris Garofalo, Guest Artist with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, story collaborations with Glen Ellyn's Children's chorus and Chicago a cappella, and an on-going partnership with Singer/Songwriter Amy Lowe. With Amy, Megan created Fire in Boomtown, the story of Chicago's 1871 fire, which received the 1999 EdPress Distinguished Achievement Award as wells as a Parent's Choice Gold. Megan has been featured three times at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough. She performs in theaters, festivals, museums, libraries, schools, corporations, pubs, retreats and house concerts. Megan holds an MFA in directing from Illinois State and a BFA from Illinois Wesleyan.