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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Spars

The Birth of A New Storyteller

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Saturday, November 23 was TELLABRATION!™ , which is a storytelling event celebrated in nine different countries and in forty states in the U.S. This local event was put on at the Sebastopol Regional Library by the Santa Rosa Do Tell Story Swap, a group that has been meeting monthly for more than ten years right here in Sonoma county. 

Since I started taking my storytelling outside the classroom more than six years ago, I have been a regular featured teller and host for this event. This year I brought someone special with me to the line up. 

She is normally seen on the Coyotes Varsity Basketball court, but this weekend was different. She took the stage in front of a packed room to make her storytelling debut. It was Lizbeth Castillo-Alcaraz '20, and she made a big splash in the storytelling community. 

Lizbeth developed her personal five-minute story in my Authentic Voices class, which is a humanities elective class aimed at telling true, compelling stories for live audiences and for radio. In class, Lizbeth told a riveting tale about a day that she was supposed to watch her four-year-old brother. While he played in the yard with their dog, she decided to clean her room, which was the only place that was messier than her car. When she went to check on her brother, she found only the dog. Where had he gone? She began to desperately search the house, "ransacking rooms in their homes she didn't even know they had!"

Not finding him anywhere in the house, she jumped in her car and began circling the block, but he was nowhere. The neighborhood regulars began to take on a sinister feel as she began to worry that someone might have taken him. After circling the block three times, she checked the park, and then with tears of desperation she pulled over and took out her phone. She punched 9-1-1 and was about to press dial. That was when she heard something in the back seat of her car. 

In a heap of sweatshirts and dirty basketball jerseys, there was her brother eating old Halloween candy that had been in her backseat for three years. There was a sigh of relief from her audience. She had held them in suspense for five full minutes. After the audience recovered, they gave her a warm ovation. 

In addition to Lizbeth and me, there were four other storytellers including two that were seasoned professionals. After the performances, members of the audience flocked around Lizbeth to congratulate her and to share their own experiences losing track of someone they love — a sign that her story touched home. 

The supportive audience and the warmth of the stories (like Katy Mangan's tale about a winter coat, Sharon Elwell's hilarious account of "weapons" fashioned from straws and paper clips in her seventh grade classroom, and Elaine Stanley's classic tale about shooting a bear, a deer, seven ducks, and twenty trout with one bullet) made this a TELLABRATION!™ to remember. I dusted off a story I told many years ago at my first Moth StorySlam. It is about the time I was trying to drive my children cross country after I had been stung in the right foot by a scorpion. Needless to say, it was very hard to control how fast I was driving. 

After the performance, on the car ride back, Lizbeth and I compared notes about how things went, and then, before she hopped out of my truck, we had already started planning her next story! She has been a serious athlete for the past four years, and she is hoping to pursue basketball at the collegiate level, but now there just might be something else that she is passionate about. Look for her at the Moth!

TELLABRATION!™, Stories of Harvest, Sebastopol Regional Libarary, November 23, 2019


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