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Storytelling Live kicks off May 1 in Jonesborough

In Jonesborough, there’s no such thing as tourists; there’s only company. And nothing makes the company feel right at home quite like a good story.
In May through October, the International Storytelling Center welcomes visitors from near and far with its teller-in-residence program, a storytelling series that offers matinee concerts from Tuesday to Saturday.
Over the course of the 2012 season, 26 tellers will take turns performing for audiences at ISC’s Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall, sharing stories from all over the world.
The teller-in-residence series was launched in 2002 as a way to expand the presence of storytelling in Jonesborough beyond the scope of the National Storytelling Festival, which is held annually on the first weekend of October.
For six months of the year, TIR showcases a broad range of voices that represent a wide array of oral traditions, including fairy tales, modern memoir, and story-based songs like ballads, folk, and blues.
“As ISC prepares for the National Storytelling Festival’s 40th anniversary, we’ve been thinking a lot about the past, present, and future of storytelling,” says Susan O’Connor, director of programming. “The diversity of this year’s TIR lineup reflects that line of thought. We want to showcase the art of storytelling from every angle — classical and contemporary, poignant and funny, young and old. What does oral tradition really mean in the modern world? There are as many answers to that question as there are tellers.”
The 2012 schedule will begin and end with fan favorite Bil Lepp, a world-class liar from West Virginia renowned for his tall tales. He’ll kick off the season with a solo residency starting Tuesday, May 1, before coming back at the end of the year for a series of special holiday concerts with Kim Weitkamp and Andy Offutt Irwin.
In between, Storytelling Live will offer a mix of fresh talent and familiar voices. Industry veterans Ed Stivender and Carol Birch will reprise their popular residencies, while new faces like Jim Stowell and Megan Hicks will charm TIR audiences for the first time.
This year’s schedule also offers a rich roster of musicians, including Celtic harpist Patrick Ball, African-American percussionist Tejumola Ologboni, and balladeer Dan Keding. As always, storytelling icon Donald Davis will christen the grounds of the National Storytelling Festival with a tent-side performance in October in addition to his weeklong residency.
More information about each performer, along with a detailed schedule for 2012, is available at
Tickets for all matinee performances are $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students, and children under 18. Season passes are also available.
A few times each season, Storytelling Live expands beyond its regular matinees to offer exclusive evening concerts. Reservations for these special performances are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are $15.
Two TIR tellers will offer Saturday morning children’s shows in June. Tickets are $5 for all ages, with performances geared towards children ages 6 to 10.
For more information or to make a group reservation, call 913-1276.