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| 2 min read | By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com  |

Telling and listening to stories is a way of making connections with each other and helps us remember and cherish the full range of human experience.

The Ann Arbor Storytellers Guild presents StoryFest, their 28th annual celebration of stories. It is one of their biggest storytelling events of the year and includes two concerts on October 12 and 13.

The event started when a group of 4 Ann Arbor librarians produced Tellabration! in Ann Arbor—a night of storytelling for adults sponsored by the National Storytelling Network, with events now celebrated worldwide on or around the third Saturday of November.

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The Storytellers’ Guild has made the event their own over the years. Now called StoryFest and includes a second concert for families, the concerts will take place on October 12 and 13.  The StoryFest for adults and teens (14 and older) takes place on October 12, 7:00 pm, at 1400 W. Stadium Blvd. in Ann Arbor.  The StoryFest Family Fun concert (ages 4 and up) on October 13, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, is at an Ann Arbor Public Library branch, 3333 Traverwood D. in Ann Arbor. Costs for the adult concert are $15/person with admission being free for the Family Fun concert.

With members telling stories at local spots like Serendipity Books, members of the Guild had to apply by sending a recording of their story to a selection committee of the Guild. All the stories are listened to and discussed by the committee before being ranked in several different categories.

After that, the committee discusses how to make the best program possible with the stories submitted. Beverly Black, Chair of the StoryFest, told The Sun Times the adult program this year has seven different stories.

“It’s really a community event,” said Black. “The (production) team is awesome. We met with them last Friday and it’s been so enthusiastic.”

When Black was asked what type of stories will be told, such as life events, fictional, non-fiction, her answer was a simple “yes” with a laugh.

“Stories that you do not need to read,” added Mary Heumann, a member of the Guild. “That comes across as being vocal performances, spoken word. People talk about life experiences, their interpretation of a fairy tale, it can be amazing. We have some really wonderful people that tell lies. The tall tales are just great. The whole range (of stories).”

Sometimes there are themes for the storytelling events and other times the themes are dictated by the stories submitted. The expectations of the Guild is to include not reading and, as much as possible, staying within the time limit. That’s both to keep the program moving and to help themselves as speakers.

“Storytelling is very different than if you’re in a meeting  or giving a speech,” said Black. “It’s more connecting with the audience. I don’t think I ever tell the story the same way twice. Depending on the audience, I’ve even been known to start a story and know it’s totally incorrect for that audience. I start a different one, you can read the audience and tell how it’s going.”

Black said her favorite part of the event is seeing the excitement in the community and from the team putting on the event.

With members telling stories in local spots like Serendipity Books, the Ugly Dog Distillery, and the Dexter Library, the Guild has been trying to increase awareness for their events in western Washtenaw county.

The Guild meets the fourth Sunday of each month at the Ann Arbor Public Library with meetings open to the public. To learn more about the Guild and their events, visit their website www.annarborstorytelling.org.

 

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