From STAFF REPORTS
From the first annual National Storytelling Festival in 1973, Connie Regan-Blake knew she had found her calling.
Back then, a career in storytelling was barely distinguishable from a rock-and-roll lifestyle. Regan-Blake and her cousin Barbara Freeman toured the country in a pickup truck, telling stories wherever people would gather to listen.
It was an unconventional lifestyle, but one that suited the two tellers at the time — and gave them a well of road stories from which Regan-Blake is still drawing to this day.
From the comfort of her home in Asheville, North Carolina, those days feel like a long time ago now. “Even then, I think I had a sense that I was in the beginnings of a storytelling revival,” Regan-Blake said. “I’m really amazed at myself. We didn’t have a home base for three years.”
During her week in Jonesborough, the much-admired teller intends to share some new traditional stories as well as a recent fan favorite, a true story about a woman who trained herself as a pilot and a spy during World War II. “I read a newspaper article about Dagmar Chillman in the early 1990s,” Regan-Blake said. “She lived in St. Augustine, Florida, and I was going to be there performing, so I called her.”
Regan-Blake also plans to share a mix of other historical tales, and personal and traditional stories. Her performances will run Tuesday to Saturday, Aug. 13-17, with each show scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
Storytelling Live! is produced by the International Storytelling Center in Jonesbrough, and all concerts will take place in their intimate theater inside the organization’s headquarters on Main Street.
Storytelling Live! tickets can be purchased in advance (which is recommended), but walk-in seating remains available while supplies last. Tickets for all afternoon matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Discounted season passes are still available for a very limited time.
Exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, The Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and The Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and five percent off any other purchase.
The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.
Storytelling Live! will run its regular programming through the end of October before hosting a few seasonal performances through the remainder of the year.
The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit www.storytellingcenter.net or call (800) 952-8392.