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Texas Storytelling Festival coming to town

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

Storytelling time is here again and it’s not just for children.

Entering its 28th year, the Texas Storytelling Festival will feature ghost stories, story concerts, workshops and more from an assortment of accomplished storytellers including DeCee Cornish, Willy Claflin, Andy Offutt Irwin and Motoko.

“It is unique in that it focuses on story, which is the grandmother of everything we know, of all the arts,” said Elizabeth Ellis, artistic director for the festival. “All communication is built on the story.”

Ellis said three of the prominent storytellers for the festival are from outside the state and that people in Denton don’t get to hear often. The fourth is from Texas.

Motoko, from Massachusetts, is eloquent and very physical, Ellis said. Irwin, who is coming from Georgia, is wild and crazy.

“He’s a great mimic and he often tells stories from the point of view of his imaginary Aunt Margarite, who is a caricature of the elderly Southern white lady,” Ellis said.

Claflin, who hails from California, is a puppeteer and storyteller who has grown a following with his sidekick Maynard Moose, Ellis said.

Cornish is from Fort Worth and he will tell stories about Texas history from the African-American tradition and speak about African mythology.

Also included on the slate of events are fringe performances that are sometimes edgier than what one might hear on the main stage, Ellis said.

“It gives people an opportunity for their voices to be heard that might not otherwise have an opportunity to tell,” she said.

On Sunday morning, there will be sacred stories from various spiritual traditions.

A dozen workshops will conducted throughout the festival.

“There is bound to be something of interest to nearly everyone, from the parent and grandparent to the highly developed professional storyteller,” Ellis said.

Collectively, a little more than a thousand people come through the festival, she said.

Ellis said she believes the festival has endured over the years because the human heart is hungry for story.

“Especially authentic story. It meets a human need that is almost visceral. Everybody loves to hear a good story,” she said. “The idea that storytelling is just for children is a very modern idea since the advent of radio. Before that, everyone told stories.

“Stories tell us who we are … keep hope alive. In this day and age, that in and of itself is a reason for listening.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is .


Here is a schedule for the Texas Storytelling Festival, which begins Thursday at the Denton Civic Center, at the intersection of McKinney Street and Bell Avenue.



•  7 to 9:15 p.m. — Haunts and Haints — Ghost Stories



•  9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — Opening Concert

• 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Morning Concert

•  10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Workshop A: Storytelling 101 with Rosie Cutrer

•  10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Workshop B: Details, Details ... Descriptive Language Makes It Real with Darci Tucker

•  12:15 to 1:15 p.m. — Lunch and story swaps

•  1:15 to 2 p.m. — John Henry Faulk Concert

•  1:15 to 3 p.m. — Workshop C: Microphone Basics with Paul Porter

•  1:15 to 3 p.m. — Workshop D: The Last Story with Joseph Pehoski

•  2:15 to 4 p.m. — Mrs. Satan for President, Willy Claflin

•  4 to 4:45 p.m. — TSA membership meeting

•  5 to 6 p.m. — Rising Stars Concert

•  6 to 7:30 p.m. — Supper on your own

•  7 to 7:30 p.m. — Pre-show music with Sleepy Creek

•  7:30 to 10 p.m. — Evening Concert of Featured Tellers, presentation of Marvin Brown Volunteer Award



•  9 to 10:30 a.m. — Family Concert

•  9 to 10:30 a.m. — Workshop E: Sing A Story, Tell A Song with Fran Stallings

•  9 to 10:30 a.m. — Workshop F: Telling the Stories of African and African-American Cultures with DeCee Cornish

•  10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Liars Contest

•  10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Workshop G: Making a Story Sandwich: Stretchers Between Stories with Kim Lehman

•  10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Workshop H: A Conversation With Andy Offutt Irwin

•  10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Kids meet the tellers

•  12:15 to 1:30 p.m. — Lunch and story swaps

•  12:15 to 1:30 p.m. — Affiliate guild meeting

•  12:15 to 1:30 p.m. — Kids activities lunch and story swap

•  1:30 to 3 p.m. — Afternoon Concert

•  1:30 to 3 p.m. — Workshop I: Voices from the Past: Crafting and Telling Historical Tales with Willy Claflin

•  1:30 to 3 p.m. — Workshop J: Cultural Authenticity and Accuracy: Issues and Challenges for Storytellers with Dr. Judi Moreillon

•  1:30 to 3 p.m. — Fringe Concert One

•  1:30 to 3 p.m. — Kids Activities Storytelling Workshop

•  3:15 to 4:45 p.m. — Workshop K: Ogres, Demons and Jealous Spirits: Introduction to Japanese Ghost Stories with Motoko

•  3:15 to 4:45 p.m. — Workshop L: Storytelling and Critical Thinking with Charles Temple

•  3:15 to 4:45 p.m. — Fringe Concert Two

•  3:15 to 4:45 p.m. — Kids Activities Story Coaching

•  5 to 7 p.m. — Talespinner Dinner and Silent Auction

•  7 to 7:30 p.m. — Pre-show music with Sleepy Creek

•  7:30 to 10 p.m. — Evening Concert of Featured Tellers, presentation of John Henry Faulk Award



•  8 to 9 a.m. — Labyrinth Walk with Reagin Hults

•  8 to 9 a.m. — Master Class with Andy Offutt Irwin

•  9:30 to 11 a.m. — Sacred Tales Concert

•  9:30 to 11 a.m. — Ribbons of Remembrance

•  9:30 to 11 a.m. — Master Class continues

•  11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Closing Concert of Featured Tellers



•  When: Thursday to Sunday

•  Where: Denton Civic Center, 321 E. McKinney St.

•  Details: Weekend, day and individual concert tickets are available. Individual concert tickets are $10. The entire weekend with everything included is $95.

•  Contact: For more information, go to .