Birch this week’s teller-in-residenceStoryteller Carol Birch, who will perform as this week’s teller-in-residence at the International Storytelling Center, loves the classics that line her bookshelf.
Far from gathering dust, she sees these stories as relevant to modern life as any newspaper.
Take the celebrated American author John Steinbeck, whose novel about the Great Depression Birch spent more than 10 years adapting for the stage.
“Today’s news echoes The Grapes of Wrath in a very literal way,” she observes. “Men made this system, but they can’t control it. It’s about the banker coming and telling somebody he has to leave his land.”
Watching Birch’s lively performances, you might not recognize her penchant for breathing new life into old classics.
“People always think that literature is going to be boring or obscure or hard to understand—in other words, not pleasant,” she says. “It’s got such a bad rap from all our failures in English classes along the way.”
Birch will perform her Steinbeck piece, along with her signature story about Lou Gehrig, during her residency. She will also share a wide variety of personal stories and folk tales from around the world.
“I really believe that literature has the power to reach past all the sentries that are posted around our heart,” she says. “Everyone has sentries around their heart. I’m not going to go there. I’m not going to feel that. Good stories just slip right past those sentries. They awaken our humanity and our compassion for others.”
Daily matinees will run from June 19-23, at 2 p.m. in the ISC’s Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall. Tickets are $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students, and children.