Storytelling festival will feature assorted tales from Texas

Storytelling festival will feature assorted tales from Texas

March 10
00:04 2015

Kelly Benjamin / Staff Writer

Storytellers from all over will flock to the Denton Civic Center from March 12-15 for the Texas Storytelling Festival, a showcase of tall tales, ghost stories and creative short stories.

The annual festival, which offers weekend passes for $130, consists of retellings of traditional stories as an art form presented by the award-winning, non-profit Texas Storytelling Association. Marketing director Peggy Helmick-Richardson goes said the steps that go into setting up the event recall her journalism and public relations experience.

“My job is to basically get the word out about the festival,” she said. “Writing press releases, getting marketing materials, taking care of post cards, making sure I find graphic artists and buying media space.”

Helmick-Richardson said she also has to make sure the program gets appropriate television and public radio advertising time. She said problems often occur when preparing for events at this caliber.

“The art director got ill so Elizabeth Ellis took over for her,” Helmick-Richardson said. “Elizabeth was definitely the first choice since she used to be one of the artistic directors as well, but she is also one of the featured tellers this year.”

Ellis, who will be reading at this year’s festival, said she often finds people who don’t understand what the festival is all about.

“We have come to the point in our culture where we think of storytelling of only being for children,” Ellis said. “So it’s difficult for people to understand that for hundreds and hundreds of years most storytelling was done by adults to adults.”

Ellis said a certain attention has to be paid to keeping a reader interested in a story.

“You have to have a heightened sense of being alive,” Ellis said. “The story has to be real for the teller before the teller can help the listener believe it is real.”

Ellis said some of the stories that she will be reading are ghost tales, stories of heroic American women and personal stories from her own life. She said she is keeping specifics to a minimum to surprise festival goers.

English junior Emily Cornell said she has experience with storytelling having recently finished a novel, and she said there is a difference between storytelling and creative writing.

“It lies within the piece’s ability to have a plot arc,” Cornell said. For example, certain songs sound like you’re being told a complete story while others only infuse imagery and other aspects of creative writing to get across emotions.”

Cornell said she has developed a certain formula to writing stories.

“My thought process when storytelling is basically to find the middle and end,” Cornell said. “Other than that, I try to make it interesting, which usually means some pretty bad jokes.”

For more information on the Texas Storytelling Festival, ticketing and more visit http://www.tejasstorytelling.com/festival/.

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