January 22, 2014

Director's Message

Ever heard  the phrase "big shoes to fill"? I'm looking at some pretty marvelous "shoes" that have been modeled for me the last nine years as Lori Olmstead has taken the lead as director of VernalUTAH'S Storytelling Festival.  We are embarking on a new adventure, and it only seems right that we should bring along a new pair of shoes. There may be a few sore spots as we adjust, but new shoes are fun!  Where will the shoes take us? Lori established many programs, ideas and curriculum that we hope to continue such as storytellers in our schools, community performances that bring families together, and the symposium where students and teachers refine the art.
Perhaps the biggest thing Lori established is the enthusiasm for storytelling.  The art is as old as the human experience, and we love meeting the diversity and new stories that come to our area with each storyteller.  The true magic happens as we feel their stories start the seed of stories deep within our students, our community, ourselves. 
Yes, these shoes are different. Instead of shoes that skip in the delight of September's autumn leaves, our shoes will crunch in the still of February. But is there a better time to gather our family and friends into a cozy circle of storytelling? I know my heart yearns for summer's beauty, but nothing is more beautiful than the human story. I know my soul longs for some inspiration in the dark of a long winter, and humans have been using the art of storytelling for centuries to connect.
Let's try out these shoes and see where they will take all of us as we begin this year's journey to discover what a decade of storytelling at VernalUTAH's Storytelling Festival has in store for our community!
Aaryn Birchell

September 10, 2012

Everyone's a Student

VernalUTAH's Indian Summer Storytelling Festival will host its second annual Storytelling Symposium on Friday, September 21, from 8 AM to Noon at Utah State University's Vernal Campus. The event, cosponsored by USU and Uintah School District, will bring students, teachers and life-long learners together to explore the fine points of storytelling with this year's featured storytellers, Bil Lepp, Antonio Rocha and Kim Weitkamp.

Barbara McBride Smith coaches students and teachers on the fine
points of  Readers' Theater at last year's storytelling symposium. 
The symposium, offered as professional development for teachers across the curriculum, is open to the whole community. "Storytelling isn't just applicable to our professions," said symposium coordinator Aaryn Birchell. "Sharing stories adds so much to the quality of our lives. It's even more powerful when you bring together different age groups, different teaching and learning styles, and so many different stories into one environment. It's really a dynamic experience."

Cost for the symposium is $25, which includes three one-hour workshops and lunch. Pre-registration is required.

In addition, Uintah Schools Foundation will present fifty scholarships to 6th through 12th grade students within Uintah School District to attend the symposium. Scholarship forms can be picked up at all secondary school offices. Students must fill out the application form, write a small essay on why they want to attend the symposium, and return all forms to the school office by noon on Friday, September 14. Scholarship recipients will be notified Tuesday, September 18.

Scheduled workshops include:
Wake Up With Bil: Go through the process and adventure of creating a tall tale. All at 7:45 in the morning. All with Bil Lepp!
Five Crazy Voices - One Million CharactersWith Antonio Rocha as your guide, discover your five different voice ranges and how to use them to bring a cast of characters to life.
Get Your Way the Old Way: Explore with Kim Weitkamp how stories can motivate more effectively than any other technique - both in the classroom and at the dinner table.

For more information, or to register for the symposium, call 789-4938. Teachers interested in attending the symposium for professional development should contact Lynna Kendall at 435-781-3100 ext. 1014.

September 5, 2012

Read All About It!

So many headlines – so many stories – all happening at VernalUTAH’s 2012 Indian Summer Storytelling Festival. 

Festival Welcomes Back Bil Lepp 

Straight from Comedy Central, storyteller/comedian Bil Lepp returns to Vernal this September with his outrageous tall-tales.  A five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars' Contest, Bil's style has been described as "a satisfying blend of Bill Cosby and Jeff  Foxworthy." However he does it, Bil's hilarious stories and witty insights into everyday life have made him one of Vernal's favorites. Hear a bit of Bil at the festival's Grand Night of Tales on Thursday and then come back for more Friday night for his one-man show Live in Concert Bil Lepp. Details, including ticket prices, on all of Bil's appearances at the festival can be found on the side panel of this blog under the heading FESTIVAL PROGRAM.

Free Night of Comedy and Tales

Once more VernalUTAH's Indian Summer Storytelling Festival offers a free Grand Night of Tales for the whole community on Thursday, September 21, at 7:30 PM. All three of the festival's featured storytellers - Bil Lepp, Kim Weitkcamp, and Antonio Rocha - will step up on stage to share some of their favorite tales, best described by Weitkamp as "stories for adults, but safe for kids." With story bags full of tales, music, mime, and laughter, there's no telling what might happen. Tickets for this special event are not necessary, but free tickets can be picked up at Bitter Creek Books or Davis Jubilee in Vernal. See FESTIVAL PROGRAM side panel for more info. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. No children under 5, please.

Antonio Rocha Opens Festival at The Children's Hour

"The jungles of Brazil and Africa come to life as Antonio singlehandedly evokes the sights and sounds of the rainforest and its wildly entertaining inhabitants." 

"Rocha not only plays his characters, but seems to be possessed by them." 

With precision-paced storytelling, uniquely blended movement, and amazing sound effects, Brazilian-born storyteller Antonio Rocha can take audiences anywhere in the world. Right before your eyes, he becomes a snake, a jaguar, a turtle. Right before your eyes, his six-foot-plus frame rises in the air and floats away. (Honestly, I was there. I saw it. Still don't believe it!

Winner of the Parent's Choice Gold Award for his DVD Under African Skies, Rocha has shared his blend of mime and storytelling with audiences at the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, and festivals from Austria to Singapore. Internationally recognized, Rocha now brings his tales to Vernal audiences, opening the festival with a free performance at The Children's Hour at Lapoint Elementary on Wednesday night. (Time out. Please read that last line again. That's right. It's not a typo. Our festival opens on Wednesday night this year, making us a three-day event of storytelling for the whole community. Just wanted to make sure you didn't miss out on any of it.) Rocha will also be featured Thursday night at our Grand Night of Tales and on Friday at Late Night Tales. Dates, times, places for Antonio's 3-day tour of Vernal are posted on the side panel under FESTIVAL PROGRAM.

Kim Weitkamp to perform at Golden Age Center

"As a redheaded daughter of exhausted parents, Kim grew up enjoying the role of the middle child." 

If you think there might be a story somewhere in that opening, you're only partially right. Kim Weitkamp is plum full of stories, stories she's been sharing with audiences at theaters and festivals throughout the United States. This year, Kim brings her stories to the Vernal stage, with performances at our Grand Night of Tales and Late Night Tales, as well as a free performance during lunchtime at the Golden Age Center on Thursday for senior citizens and their guests. 

But Kim's storytelling career didn't begin on stage. Before taking her stories - and her guitar - across country, Kim used the art of applied storytelling as a youth advocate working 15 years with at-risk students. Not to discriminate, she also founded the Wrinkles Project, a national campaign to raise awareness of the national treasure we possess in the life stories within our elder communities. Along the way, she learned a thing or two. As one critic put it, whether she's telling stories of penny-candy love or making head bones rattle, "Kim weaves the threads of her individual stories into a single tapestry full of singular characters, fantastic situations, and heartfelt wisdom - all the best that a storyteller can offer." For more information on all of Kim's festival performances, scroll down the side panel - FESTIVAL PROGRAM.

More headlines to come. So stay posted - and Read all about it!