A! Magazine for the Arts

Peter Cook

Peter Cook

Storytelling Live begins in Jonesborough

May 29, 2018

Storytelling Live!, the International Storytelling Center’s celebrated teller-in-residence series, continues its season in June. The program features 26 of America’s best-loved storytellers, one each week, May through October. Each teller appears in matinee performances Tuesday through Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall. The month also includes two Saturday morning children’s concerts and a workshop.

Peter Cook, of Chicago, starts off the month with performances from May 29-June 2, which include a special children’s performance June 2 at 10:30 a.m. An internationally renowned deaf performing artist, Cook’s work incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting and movement. Cook has presented his work both nationally and internationally, including at the Kennedy Center, the National Book Festival and in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Japan. He has also appeared on PBS and traveled extensively as part of the Flying Words Project to promote ASL literature.

Award-winning storyteller Regi Carpenter of New York appears June 5-9. The youngest daughter in a family that pulsates with contradictions: religious and raucous, tender but terrible, unfortunate yet irrepressible, her tales celebrate the glorious and gut-wrenching lives of four generations raised on the Saint Lawrence River. Carpenter also hosts a workshop, “Getting to Grief: Storytelling in Bereavement,” Thursday, June 7 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Attendees learn to improve their ability to support those coping with loss in this interactive and informative workshop. Carpenter is founder of Stories with Spirit, a creative initiative dedicating to bringing stories of hope to palliative care patients, families and caregivers. She is also a recipient of the J.J. Reneaux Emerging Artist Grant Award, a Leonard Bernstein Teaching Fellowship Award and the Parents’ Choice Gold Award.

June 12-16 brings National Storytelling Festival alumnus Jerron Paxton, from New York. Although only in his 20s, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton has earned a reputation for transporting audiences back to the 1920s and making them wish they could stay there. A multi-instrumentalist, " he plays banjo, guitar, piano, fiddle, harmonica, Cajun accordion and the bones, " his ability to transform traditional jazz, blues, folk and country into the here and now, coupled with his humor and storytelling, make for an engaging performance. Paxton appeared in the award-winning music documentary “American Epic,” produced by Robert Redford, Jack White and T-Bone Burnett.

Storytelling Live! welcomes Jackson Gillman, from Massachusetts, June 19-23, with a special children’s performance June 23 at 10:30 a.m. Referred to as a “Stand-Up Chameleon,” the term encapsulates his skills as a storyteller, comic, songsmith and sign language and movement artist. Known for his eccentric character work and comedy, Gillman enjoys using the quirks and quiet in daily life for grist in his storytelling as he regales his audience with his perceptions, astute and askew. And when all is said and sung, it is apparent that there is an underlying foundation of beneficence, hope and spirit infusing his work.

Rounding out the month of June, June 26-30, is Adam Booth of West Virginia. Booth’s storytelling blends traditional folklore, music and an awareness of contemporary Appalachia. His original cinematic style, both humorous and touching, is influenced by generations of diverse storytellers from West Virginia. He is a member of the Recording Academy and his stories and recordings have been honored with two Parents’ Choice Silver Honors, four Storytelling World Awards and Honors, NSN’s J.J. Reneaux Emerging Artist Grant, and four West Virginia Liars’ Contest wins.

For more information about Storytelling Live! or to purchase tickets call 800-952-8392, ext. 222 or 423-913-1276.