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Beloved storyteller Ed Stivender to perform in Jonesborough

Ed Stivender, one of the world’s foremost experts on Jack tales, will be the next storyteller in residence for Jonesborough’s Storytelling Live! series.
From July 8 – 12, Tuesday through Saturday, he’ll offer regular matinees in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall. Scheduled for 2 p.m. daily, each performance will include a wide selection of folk tales, fairy tales, and personal stories, with Stivender accompanying himself on banjo and harmonica.
Stivender, who is best known for his fractured fairy tales and improv work, may seem at first like an unlikely champion of Jack tales. Popularized by storytelling icon Ray Hicks, the genre is usually considered a Southern specialty.
But Jack has a much farther reach than most people realize. “There was a Norwegian version of a Jack tale in a fairy tale book that my mother used to read to me, so I had it in my earliest memory of storytelling,” Stivender said. “Then I discovered it later in my storytelling career.”
Recently, Stivender took a break from his busy performance schedule to talk about his work at an academic conference. “They invited me to present on Jack tales —where they come from, why they’re so popular, and what my experience with modernizing them is,” he said. “One of the fascinating things about the research was when I started looking up scholarly articles about Jack, I found my name coming up. So it was great fun to present a workshop in which I was quoting people who were quoting me.”
In addition to his afternoon performances, for one night only, Thursday, July 10, at 7:30 p.m., Stivender will host “Once Upon A Planet,” an exclusive collection of folk tales and literary pieces from around the world. The concert will feature stories from places like Armenia, the United Kingdom and France.
Tickets for the special concert are only $15, and all ticket holders will save 10 percent on same-day dining at The Olde Courthouse Diner, The Dining Room, Jonesborough General Store and Eatery, or Main Street Café. Advance purchase is strongly recommended.
On the storytelling circuit, Stivender is celebrated for the way he cleverly folds suggestions from his audience into his work. During his residency, he plans to close each performance with an improv piece.
“In the process of telling a story, oftentimes an audience will goad me into making changes on the spot,” he said. “Then the next time I tell the story, the changes will be part of it. Sometimes people even give me suggestions after the show. It’s part of the great fun in storytelling with an audience. It helps me develop my material.”
Tickets for all matinees are just $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students, and children under 18. Season passes that offer savings of 44 percent will be available while supplies last.
Information about all TIR performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2014, is available at Storytelling Live! is supported by Presenting Sponsor CrestPoint Health, program sponsors Eastman Chemical Company and Eastman Credit Union, and media sponsors News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune and Cumulus Media.
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 913-1276