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Storyteller Megan Wells speaks about the power of imagination

By Staff | Nov 23, 2018

Ted Ewing, left, of Shepherdstown, talks with Speak Series storyteller Megan Wells in Reynolds Hall on Nov. 13. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — For Megan Wells, becoming a storyteller happened naturally. When the former stage actress’ children were young, Wells enjoyed recounting legends and fairy tales to her children. As time went on, her children suggested she should tell her stories to other people as well.

During the Nov. 13 Speak Story Series event, Wells described her path to storytelling through stories about her childhood.

“I grew up in an apple tree, and I knew that tree loved me. I nestled in that apple tree, that protected me from the indifferent sky,” Wells said, mentioning her family had “unresolved alcohol issues for seven years.” “I watched many of my family from the branches of that tree.”

Wells’ family eventually got to a healthier place, and she, her parents and her two brothers would often go on camping trips together in the mountains. However, Wells had to cram into the back seat of the family’s station wagon with her brothers, who would take up most of the room in the seat, during the long trips. While this made it difficult for Wells to relax or sleep like her brothers were able to do, Wells said she found creative ways to deal with the discomfort.

“I didn’t see much of America, but I used my imagination as I watched the clouds,” Wells said, mentioning one particular drive to the Colorado Mountains lasted three days. As the station wagon neared the mountains, Wells said she got her first glimpse of what the stars looked like away from her home in the suburbs.

“I was nine years old, the first time I met the stars. They were washed out in our suburbs by the streetlights and town lights, designed to keep us safe. They were shining down on me, trying to fill a place deep inside of me. And then I thought, ‘They see me. Millions and millions of eyes,'” Wells said. “I put my head back on the wheel drum, so I could watch the stars, watching down at me.”

During the event, Wells recounted one of the stories of King Arthur with a modern twist, along with a story about one of the elephants in the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

According to Wells, she chooses stories with two main goals — to teach listeners and to transport their imaginations.

“I think we’re living in a time where we need to be transported,” Wells said. “Each story changes me — each story makes me grow, makes me wiser. And whenever I tell someone a story, it makes us better — it makes us friends.”