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Peter Cook to bring his tales to town

Peter Cook will share his own special stories and tales next week in Jonesborough.


Peter Cook, an acclaimed storyteller who has been deaf since the age of 3, will be the next teller in residence for the International Storytelling Center’s Storytelling Live! series.

Cook, who is chair of the American Sign Language (ASL) department at Columbia College in Chicago, has a long and rich history as both a performer and an educator. He has taught at Columbia since 1998, including a hiatus during which he focused on his performance career.

As Jonesborough’s resident storyteller, Cook will host a series of live concerts from May 29 – June 2, beginning each day at 2 p.m. He will be accompanied by an interpreter.

He will also host a special children’s concert on Saturday, June 2, at 10:30 a.m. Geared towards ages six through ten, the show will feature stories with a great deal of audience participation.

All of Cook’s dynamic performances include elements of ASL, pantomime, and acting. His expressive style developed in part from his experience as a poet. ASL has its own poetic tradition, an elegant and expressive form that focuses on live performance instead of the written or spoken word.

Many of the storyteller’s tales are personal, with a focus on his childhood in Chicago and New Jersey. After losing his hearing to a bout with spinal meningitis as a toddler, Cook grew up as a deaf person navigating a hearing world, which led to frequent misunderstandings. He has described his life as “a story of miscommunication, of an extra struggle to communicate with the outside world.” Learning ASL as a young adult unlocked new possibilities, not just as a person, but also as a performer.

Tickets for Cook’s Saturday morning children’s show are just $5 for all ages. All ticket holders will receive coupons for 15 percent off at The Lollipop Shop, a popular Main Street store that sells old-fashioned sweets and toys.

Cook’s matinée concerts are just $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Season passes will be available at more than a 40 percent discount, but only for a limited time. Advance purchase for all performances is recommended.

Storytelling Live! runs from May through the end of October, with daily matinées Tuesday through Saturday and special programming like children’s shows and workshops scheduled throughout the season.

Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2018, is available at The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. .

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.