Days are getting colder and nights are getting longer. In olden days, that meant gathering around the fire for an evening of conversation and stories.
The past will be the present again on Sunday, Nov. 18, when the Story Circle’s annual Tellabration takes place at the Whisperdome at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady.
Don’t expect whispers, though; there are more likely to be shouts of laughter since this year’s Tellabration theme is `Laughing Out Loud.`
`Everyone needs a good laugh,` said Kate Dudding, one of the producers of the local Tellabration. `Children laugh 20 times more each day than adults, and that’s not right. We’re offering good, clean humor that adults will enjoy.`
Joe Doolittle is producing Tellabration with Dudding, and they will be joined by eight area storytellers.
`We try for a mix of storytellers,` Dudding said.
A lot of the storytellers may already be familiar to Capital District audiences, since they gather one Sunday evening a month at the Glen Sanders Mansion for Story Sundays. Audiences enjoy a four-course dinner with storytelling.
At Tellabration, those storytellers will offer a combination of folk tales and their own personal stories.
`The storyteller knows stories that generations of people have told,` Dudding said. `They had to mean something for all those stories to stay alive. There’s comfort and wisdom, and that’s part of it being a shared experience.`
Doolittle expounded on the shared experience, especially just before Thanksgiving.
`It’s a wonderful time of coming together before Thanksgiving,` he said. `Stories provide the medium, and it’s another shared joy.`
`Everyone comes with a different frame of mind and different experiences,` Dudding said. `People take away what they need.`
Dudding said she gathers stories everywhere she goes.
`I’ve got some from my hairdresser,` she said. `There’s one about Eleanor Roosevelt, and one about a family coming to Ellis Island in 1912. I picked up two at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. One I got from a display about women aviators you’ve never heard of. Wherever I go, I’m on the prowl.`
Dudding said that storytelling in front of a live audience can affect how storytellers weave their tales.
`If the audience is reacting well to the humor, we’ll keep that going,` said Dudding. `If they’re really focused, we’ll keep going deeper.`
Storytellers auditioned for Tellabration, and Dudding said they had the right amount of storytellers for this year’s Tellabration.
Tellabration occurs throughout the United States in November, adding to the sense of community.
`People often think storytelling is just for children,` Dudding said. `But once a year, 12,000 people descend on a tiny Tennesse town for a national storytelling festival.`
While there won’t be 12,000 people at the Whisperdome this Sunday, Dudding expects at least 200. Who would like it?
`If you like theater, you’ll like storytelling,` Dudding said. `It combines the intensity of a one-person play with the intimacy of a one-on-one conversation.`
`Maybe somebody will be entertained,` Doolittle said. `It’s a shared joy.`
This year’s Tellabration storytellers are Frances Combs Berger of Castleton, Betty Cassidy, Margaret French and Christie Keegan of Saratoga Springs, Kathleen Gill and Marni Gillard of Schenectady, Claire Nolan of Albany, Nancy Marie Payne of Berne and Karen Pillsworth of Kingston.
Laughing Out Loud at the Whisperdome is produced by Story Circle Productions, Ltd. Proceeds from previous Tellabration programs have funded more than 70 storytelling programs at libraries, museums and other locations in the Capital District.
Tellabration will take place Sunday, Nov. 18, at 4 p.m. at the Whisperdome at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady at 1221 Wendell Ave. in Schenecatdy. To make reservations, call 384-1700. Cost is $10 in advance; $13 at the door. First-time visitors to Tellabration receive a $2 discount on an advance ticket; if you bring a newcomer to Tellabration, both of you save $2 on advance tickets.
For information about Tellabration, visit www.telebration.org. For information about storytelling, visit www.storynet.org. For information about Story Circle Productions, Ltd., visit www.timesunion.com/communities/storycircle. “