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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Spars


November is Tellabration! month, and there are online events scheduled all over the nation. Tuesday, November 10 was a joint concert by Do Tell, the Santa Rosa Swap, and Inland Valley, a swap in Southern California. I was lucky to be chosen as the host for our group this year.

The Inland Valley group provided a strong cast of tellers, their stories ranging from historical accounts to Russian folktales. Ron Evans, who participated in the very first Tellabration! in 1988 told an intriguing tale of two officers, one British and one German, to honor Veterans Day, which he pointed out used to be called Armistice Day. Adrian Lowry followed this with a poignant folktale about "The Daughter of the Snow," in which a couple receives a magical baby girl made of swirling ice.

The Do Tell roster included the veterans, Katy Mangan, Sharon Elwell, and Elaine Stanley. Robin Whealdon was scheduled to tell, but in a manner that was in keeping with the chaos that doing this event virtually brought to us, The host from SAC had been ushered to the emergency room with an injured hand, so there was nobody to start the event. Marrian Ferrante came to the rescue and created a new meeting for the tellers and audience members. However, Robin was never able to join with a strong enough connection, and so our group was limited to three tellers.

Ah, but what a strong three our tellers were. Katy told a story she has been working on in which her mythical character Eduardo ventures to a Monastery and then down south to the depths of a magical place called the Emerald Forest. It has been a delight to listen to the different iterations of this story, and it shows how Katy's dedication to her art brings her telling into crystal clear focus. I loved the scene where the Monastery becomes enshrouded in the magic of a traveling storyteller (storytellers are dangerous!), and the ornate carvings of the walls become vines, the chanting of the monks becomes the roar of a waterfall...

Sharon told a heartwarming tale of teaching the seventh grade. She told this story last year at Tellabration!, which was held in the Sebastopol Library. It was just as heartwarming over Zoom, as she recounted the episodes that stand out from her years spent as a teacher. Elaine closed the set with her tried and true story of how she bagged a bear, a deer, a turtle, and a school of trout with one bullet. With a glint in her eye, she always challenges her audience to figure out where the factual account of her life living in Virginia ends and the Ozark tall tale begins. I have come to believe that the whole tale is true. Maybe that is the true danger of a veteran storyteller!

I wove an account of trying to tell a story at Spancky's Bar through the introductions. It certainly wasn't my most inspired performance, as I was thrown off by the late start, but I certainly was glad to be there and be a part of the magic that is Tellabration!

I am excited to continue to work on a new story, "The Long Tea Pour," which I told at a school event recently. For a December Six Feet Apart show, I am going to add an ending to this account of a school trip to China. Telling new stories for concerts can be more stressful than a tried-and-true story, but it certainly is exhilarating, and this is probably exactly what I need when telling on a virtual stage!

A Worldwide Storytelling Event Stories for Everyone Tellabration!™ 2020 Presented by The Inland Valley Storytellers in Southern California Do Tell Story Swap of Sonoma County on Tuesday, November 10, 2020


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