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August 15, 2008

Regional storytellers weave traditional stories and tall tales at CW's fourth annual Storytelling Festival

“It doesn’t matter where you come from in the world, who your ancestors are, every single human being starts out with a story,” said Diane Macklin, a regional storyteller who will be performing at Colonial Williamsburg’s fourth annual Storytelling Festival, “Spinning Stories/Spanning Time: A Weekend of Stories Old and New,” Sept. 19-21.

Macklin and three other storytellers, Rich Knoblich, Ellouise Schoettler and Kim Weitkamp, bring their stories to the festival. A professional storyteller and certified educator for more than 10 years, Macklin’s performance style is influenced by a variety of arts training in dance and theater. As a writer and actress, she performs solo, theatrical pieces as well as traditional storytelling programs. She co-produced a storytelling series at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and received the Solo Theatrical Performer Fellowship from the Maryland State Arts Council. Macklin has led workshops and/or performed for Discovery Theatre, Smithsonian African Art Museum, National Public Radio, National Storytelling Network, Washington Storytellers Theatre and Three Apples Storytelling Festival.

Knoblich is author of “Talking ‘bout the Relatives.” Set during visits with his family up at the old homestead in the mountains, he relates the shenanigans of believable rustic characters in modern times. Many stories incorporate members of his family along with the friends he has made over the years and are often based on reality but loaded with plenty of embellishment. Rich has brought home eight ribbons from the West Virginia Liar’s Contest and judged the contest in 2008. His creative tall tale writings have been published in various national and regional magazines. He has performed at every West Virginia Storytelling Festival and has entertained audiences throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Ellouise Schoettler calls herself an “old-time Southern storyteller” like those she grew up listening to in her native North Carolina. Schoettler blends memory, personal experience, folklore and myth in stories that reveal moments in the lives of ordinary people. Schoettler has performed at Speakeasydc, Washington, D.C.; Strathmore Arts Center, Bethesda, Md.; Washington Storytellers Theater, Washington, D.C.; Lehigh Valley Storytelling Festival, Bethlehem, Pa., 2007; Rogue Festival, Fresno, Calif.; and the Levine Museum of the South, Charlotte, N.C. Since 2003 Schoettler has been storyteller-in-residence for the Audubon Naturalist Society, Chevy Chase, Md., telling environmental and nature stories in the schools in the Washington Metro Area. In 2007 she was awarded a Creative Projects Award by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Md., for a new Spoken Word work.

Best known for her original Pitscreek stories, Kim Weitkamp charms the audience with her warm storytelling style that moves back and forth between stand-up comedy and heart-felt story weaving. Weitkamp’s performance list as a newcomer includes the historic Lyric Theater in Virginia, the Northeast Storytelling Festival, the Storytelling Festival of the Carolinas, the Smoky Mountains Festival in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the Colonial Williamsburg Storytelling Festival and many others. She holds residencies at Barnes & Noble, the Montgomery County Museum and the Lewis Miller Art Center. She currently serves as president of the Virginia Storytelling Alliance and is the Virginia State Representative for the National Youth Storytelling Showcase.

In addition, guests can enjoy four Colonial Williamsburg storytellers who include:

  • Shel Browder, a journeyman blacksmith in Colonial Williamsburg’s Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop, was born and raised in Wallace, N.C. He grew up listening to tales of farmers, loggers and millworkers told around the coal stove in his family’s hardware store, family stories shared on the front porch of his grandmother’s house and his father’s stories told at the kitchen table. A member of the local storytelling group, Weavers of the Word, he has participated in Telebration and First Night. In Colonial Williamsburg’s evening programs, he primarily tells Scottish stories.
  • Art Kivel Johnson is a veteran African American interpreter with Colonial Williamsburg. A well-known interpreter in Williamsburg, he is interested in historical construction of heroes and has presented sessions dramatizing history. Johnson’s performance of “The Jackal and the Dog,” a tale about the choice between freedom and slavery, is featured on the Foundation’s Web site.
  • Sharon S. Rogers believes that storytelling begins not with the teller but with a willing listener and delights children of all ages with her "critter tales." In addition to a theatrical career that began 20 years ago, she is a member of the National Storytelling Network and has participated in workshops with renowned storytellers such as Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy, Bill Harley, Bil Lepp, Willie Clafin, Motoko and Kim Weitkamp. She is currently a storyteller for Colonial Williamsburg’s evening programs.
  • Tracey Ellis Turner, a native of Gloucester, Va., is making her third appearance at the Storytelling Festival. She has toured as a soprano soloist and a featured dancer, and has participated as an actress in numerous international Playwrights Retreats. A director, choreographer and makeup artist for several children’s play, Turner teaches in the Williamsburg-James City County public school system and interprets in Colonial Williamsburg’s evening programs. She is a member of the Virginia Blackstorytelling Association.

    The Storytelling Festival will take place on the grounds at Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Colonial Williamsburg benefactor, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby. Storytellers can be heard in individual venues scattered throughout the grounds.

    Guests also can purchase books or CDs from their favorite storytellers at the festival. A variety of festival ticket options are available. For the best value, book early and save 20 percent on weekend passes and family packages and 10 percent on individual event tickets (excluding a wine and cheese event). A Weekend Pass features day and evening Friday and Saturday programs, and day programs on Sunday. Passes purchased between April 21 and Aug. 31 are $75 for adults and $35 for youth ages 6-17. Passes purchased after Sept. 1 are $90 for adults and $42 for youth ages 6-17. Children under 6 are admitted free.

    Family Packages for two adults and up to two youth include day and evening Friday and Saturday programs, day programs on Sunday. Packages purchased between April 21 and Aug. 31 are $175. Packages purchased after Sept. 1 are $210. Some restrictions apply, please call 1-800-HISTORY for more details.

    Individual event tickets are available for purchase. Passes for day and evening programs on Friday are $45 for adult and $20 for youth ages 6-17 when purchased between April 21 and Aug. 31 and $49 for adults and $22 for youth ages 6-17 when purchased after Sept. 1. Passes for day and evening programs on Saturday only are $65 for adults and $30 for youth ages 6-17 when purchased between April 21 and Aug. 31 and $71 for adult and $33 for youth ages 6-17 when purchased after Sept. 1. Passes for Sunday programs are $35 for adults and $15 for youth ages 6-17 when purchased between April 21 and Aug. 31 and $38 for adults and $16 for youth ages 6-17 when purchased after Sept. 1. Evening tickets for Friday and Saturday can be purchased after Sept. 1 for $20 for adults and $10 for youth ages 6-17.

    A Wine-and-Cheese Storytelling event is planned 6-8 p.m. Saturday night for adults only. The program features adult stories and space is limited. Cost is $35 per person, including a souvenir Colonial Williamsburg Storytelling Festival wine glass.

    Guests staying at one of the Colonial Williamsburg’s hotel properties receive 50 percent off the full purchase price of Weekend Passes and individual event tickets.

    School groups are invited to attend programs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday at a cost of only $10 for teachers and $5 for students. Stories address portions of the Virginia Standards of Learning – Oral Literature for grades four through six.

    For more information or to reserve your tickets, call 1-800-HISTORY or go to www.history.org/storytelling.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.history.org.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121



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