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Storytelling Series grows

By Staff | Sep 12, 2014

The “Speak!” Shepherdstown Storytellers Series kicked off its second season Tuesday evening, and showed some signs of growth.

Adam Booth, Speak!, founder and performer, opened Tuesday night s event by sharing many of the changes this season will bring.

“Speak” will feature nine performers this year from various backgrounds.

“We have a wide variety of tellers,” Booth said

About half of the series are West Virginians, telling a range of stories.

These include traditional Appalachian stories, tall tales, and “ancient Indian epics.”

Booth said this season has also grown to include more storytellers from around the country.

“We’ve grown in the amount of tellers and also the reach,” he said.

This season will feature stories from the African American tradition, African stories, river stories, stories about American women and stories that feature music.

Additionally, featured performers have committed to spending a second day telling tales as part of the series.

“We also added a second day of story telling.” Booth said.

Storytellers will now visit local area schools on Wednesday mornings, following their Tuesday night performances to speak to kids.

Booth said this program will be held in conjunction with a special storytelling contest for youth.

Students are encouraged to learn a traditional story or write an original piece and perform it at the end of the season in a competition for prizes.

“What we’re hoping will happen is that the schools will then do a storytelling units,” he said.

“You don’t hear a lot of traditional stories anymore. And up until recently it was a part of everyday life and culture. They teach lessons ,” he said.

“…About living, about respect, about tolerance, about diversity.”

“With this being such technological age, I think it’s important for young people to work on their speaking skills,” he went on to say.

“It’ something were in danger of losing.”

Nine charitable organizations will receive proceeds from the series this season.

Booth said this “further stitches local community into this event.”

Tuesday night’s season kick off event featured Appalachian storyteller Suzi “Mama” Whapels.

10 percent of the profits made went to local charity Caring Cupboard.

This season of “Speak!” is being presented in part by grants and support from new partnerships.

The series received an EZ Arts Access grant from the West Virginia Division of Arts and History and a member grant from the National Storytelling Network.

Booth said he’ll continue to seek out additional funding throughout the year. These grants now cover about 1/3 of the series cost and go toward paying the tellers and funding the school visits.

Booth said he thinks storytelling is something that many people are still confused about, so his main goal is to open up the art form to new audiences.

“I want to help spread the idea that storytelling is for adults as much as it is for children.”

Tickets for “Speak!” are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, and $8 for students ,and can be purchased at Four Seasons Books or by calling Adam at 304-886-9481.

Each event is held the second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Shepeherdstown Community Club, War Memorial Building.

More information can be found by visiting the “Spaak!” web site at www.speakwv.org.