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April 13, 2007

CW's third annual Storytelling Festival features eight nationally known storytellers

A native Cuban, a theater duo, a champion “liar” and a Native American are among the acclaimed performers as The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation celebrates diversity at its third annual storytelling festival, “Spinning Stories/Spanning Time: A Weekend of Stories Old and New,” Sept. 14-16. The festival will highlight African, African American, Asian, Cuban, Native American and other multi-cultural stories.

Eight nationally acclaimed storytellers continue the tradition of passing stories across generations and include Len Cabral, Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy, Eth-Noh-Tec, Bil Lepp, Onawumi Jean Moss, Tim Tingle and Kathryn Windham.

Len Cabral has been enchanting audiences with his storytelling performances at schools, libraries, museums and festivals throughout this country and Canada since 1978. Of Cape Verdean ancestry, he tells stories from Africa, the Caribbean, the Cape Verde islands and the southern United States. Donald D. Davis was born in a southern Appalachian mountain world rich in stories. He has performed at storytelling festivals and concerts throughout the United States and the world, served as chairperson of the board of directors for the national storytelling association, as master teacher of workshops and storytelling courses, and as guest host of American Public Radio’s “Good Evening.” He has appeared on CNN and “ABC News Nightline.”

Carmen Deedy was born in Havana, Cuba, and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1963 during the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution. The combination of her Latin American and southern heritages has had a rich influence upon her work. She has performed at the Disney Institute, on Broadway at the New Victory Theater, at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and the Kennedy Center, as well as at many storytelling festivals nationwide. Eth-Noh-Tec is an interdisciplinary theater duo that features the combined performance chemistry of Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo and Nancy Wang. Founded in 1982, the group layers ancient Asian mythologies, folktales and Asian urban legends with Asian-American sensibilities.

Bil Lepp, who hails from Charleston, W.Va., got his start as a storyteller in 1990 at the West Virginia Liars Contest. He now is the five-time champion of that contest. He also has been a featured performer at the National Storytelling Festival and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, is an author of books and audio collections of tales, and has had stories published in several national magazines. Onawumi Jean Moss’ performances encourage pride of heritage, appreciation of cultural differences and recognition of kinships. Her timeless stories and a cappella songs of Africa and African descent include tales of wonder, liberation, praise, trickery and spirituality.

Tim Tingle brings the lore of the Choctaw nation to life in lively historical, personal and traditional stories. Tingle, a powerful conference and festival speaker, was featured at the 2002 National Storytelling Festival. Throughout his career, he has performed as a featured storyteller in festivals covering 30 states. In 2004, he was a teller-in-residence at the international storytelling center. Kathryn T. Windham of Selma, Ala., for more than 20 years, has made a second profession out of traveling the South and other parts of the country, telling tales about such southern phenomena as butterbean cows, grapevine swings and cornbread. Apart from being a master storyteller, Windham also is the author of 21 books, a playwright, an accomplished photographer, and a popular television and radio personality.

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

Guests also can purchase books or CDs from their favorite storytellers onsite.

The Story Keepers Project will return to the festival this year. This event allows guests to interview a member of their family about their experiences in another place at another time. Guests can make an appointment for a 20-minute interview and will be given a list of questions to ask. Following the interview, guests will be given a CD copy of the interview to take home.

A variety of festival ticket options are available. A Weekend Pass features day programs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Friday evening Olio, which is a sampling of storytellers, and one Saturday evening storytelling event, for $65 for adults and $33 for youth ages 6-17. A Single Day Pass is available for Friday, Saturday or Sunday and includes admission to all day programs for the selected day for $29 for adults and $15 for youth ages 6-17. An Evening Pass provides admission to one evening program, with the exception of the Wine-and-Cheese Storytelling, for $15 for adults and youth ages 6-17 and $8 for children under age 6. Guests also can attend the Wine-and-Cheese Storytelling (adults only) for $30.

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. A limited number of $5 brown bag lunches consisting of sandwich, chips, cookie and beverage will be available if booked in advance.

For information on tickets, call 1-800-HISTORY or go to

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. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121