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Storytelling festival planned at Oklahoma History Museum



Each year, Arts Council Oklahoma City provides the community with a weekend dedicated to the art of storytelling with featured performances, engaging workshops and a family matinee.

The 35th annual Storytelling Festival is Aug. 27-29 and features three nationally acclaimed orators: Charlotte Blake Alston, Jim May and Megan Wells. According to Christina Foss, communications director at Arts Council Oklahoma City, the art is not limited to a specific age group.

“When people hear the word ‘storytelling,’ they automatically think of kids,” Foss said. “Our evening performances are actually geared towards adults; it’s adult material. But the family matinee is for kids.”

Each evening, the audience will witness performances from all three, but only one will be the featured teller. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Doors open an hour earlier.

Thursday features Jim May, an Emmy Award-winning storyteller and author from Illinois. He received his Chicago Emmy award in 1989 for his performance of “A Bell for Shorty.” Most of his stories are autobiographical, but he also performs literary pieces.

Wells takes the stage Friday. She is a former actress and director, which allows her to bring her theatrical background into her work. Her best-known performance is her adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Wells prefers fairy tales, historical tales and personal narratives.

Alston closes out the festival with African-American oral, cultural and traditional stories. She has performed for more than 25 seasons in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to African refugee camps. According to Foss, Alston brings multiple facets of African culture to the festival.

“It’s really great that we get to have a prominent African-American storyteller, really one of the best out there,” Foss said. “I’m hoping she can bring in a diverse audience because she’s just fantastic. She brings a lot of rhythm to her stories and songs and music, so she has a really wide repertoire.”

Multiple workshops take place during the Storytelling Festival, and each featured teller will hold his or her own. Wells will present teaching methods for using personal wounds and revealing how storytelling can heal. May will do a workshop on how myths guide our culture and the influences those myths have. Charlotte Blake Alston will teach one on rhythm and African-American folk traditions.

“The workshops are really unique in the sense that they can appeal to anyone, not just people wanting to be storytellers,” Foss said. “These can help you tell everyday stories like to your children or pulling in stories from the past. They can help you just in normal conversation or also in presentations at work.”

The workshops start at 10 a.m. on Friday and noon Saturday after the family matinee at 10 a.m. May and Wells will perform a joint collaboration for the family matinee. Attendees will also be able to take part in an interactive art activity.

The festival has activities for adults and children, and it’s one of Foss’ favorite events Arts Council Oklahoma City presents each year.

“You never really know what you’re going to get, but it’s always something that’s going to draw you in completely,” Foss said.

The event is at the Oklahoma History Museum, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive. Performance tickets are $10, and workshop passes are $10 or $15 for a day. Tickets for both Friday and Saturday workshops are $25. A festival pass is $50. The family matinee is free.

For more information or for tickets, visit or call 270-4848. Tickets also may be purchased at the Oklahoma History Museum each day of the festival.

2015 Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival full schedule

Thursday, Aug. 27

Evening Performance

Jim May with Charlotte Blake Alston and Megan Wells (Pre-show entertainment provided by Jade Castle)

7 p.m.: Devon Great Hall, $10

Friday, Aug. 28

Art of Storytelling


9 a.m.: Registration

10-11:30 a.m.: Wound to Gold

by Megan Wells

12-12:45 p.m.: Lunch, Open Mic Storytelling by Territory Tellers (Free)

1:30-3 p.m.: Personal Narrative, Culture, and Myth by Jim May

Chesapeake Event Room, $15-$25

Evening Performances

Megan Wells with Charlotte Blake Alston and Jim May

8 p.m.: Devon Great Hall, $10

Saturday, Aug. 29

Family Matinee Performance

Crawlies! Caterpillars and Worms

by Megan Wells and Jim May

10 a.m.: Free

Art of Storytelling Workshops

12-12:45 p.m.: Lunch, Oklahoma Olio

by Territory Tellers (Free)

1:15-2:45 p.m.: Rhythm This and Melody That by Charlotte Blake Alston

3-4:30 p.m.: Finding Your Own Voice featuring Charlotte Blake Alston, Jim May, and Megan Wells

Chesapeake Event Room, $15-$25

Evening Performances

Charlotte Blake Alston with

Jim May and Megan Wells

(Pre-show entertainment provided by Clayton Stroup)

8 p.m.: Devon Great Hall, $10

Tickets for Friday and Saturday workshops are $25. A festival pass is $50. The family matinee is free.

2015 Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival

7 p.m. Aug. 27, 8 p.m. Aug. 28-29

Oklahoma History Museum

800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive



Print headline: Spinning webs, Three acclaimed storytellers perform at Oklahoma History Museum.

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