Adam Booth

Looking Back on the Fifth Season of Speak Story Series

In December the Speak Story Series capped off its fifth season, which saw a number of changes to its operation. A community committee formed to guide the Series into future seasons and also worked to join the series into its new home at Shepherd University. With built-in seats, sloped floor, and raised stage, Reynolds Hall has proven to be a reliable new home (although we are still good friends with the Shepherdstown Community Club, our original home across the street). It was in Reynolds that we welcomed most of our tellers this season, including Antonio Rocha, Csenge Zalka, Jane Dorfman, Bill Harley, Janice Del Negro, Marc Harshman, and myself. We moved down the street for two shows, featuring Charlotte Blake Alston and the hoop dancing of Kevin Locke. With this lineup, Shepherdstown heard stories in four languages, folk tales from around the world, a presentation of some of the Arabian Nights, poetry from the State poet laureate, original and traditional music, and more. With our October show, we used the internet to bring Janice to our "big screen" from across the country. This was the second time we have used an internet video service to bring a storyteller to West Virginia, and her folktales and spooky stories were enhanced by the "drive-in" quality of the night. Speak is really on a roll and we are looking forward to kicking off our sixth season in March 2018.

Reflections from the Kansas City Storytelling Festival

by Adam Booth

The Kansas City Storytelling Festival is an event I had heard about from several friends on the storytelling circuit. It was always described with superlatives: "sweet" "just the right size" "a teller's dream job." Now that I have told there, I can say that my friends didn't lie!

The November festival places tellers into local public and private venues during the day, such as schools and public service programs, and offers workshops and concerts in the evenings. I had the opportunity to share tales at elementary and middle schools around the metropolitan area, give a workshop at the Midwest Genealogy Center on cultural influence on personal tales, and join fellow featured tellers Sheila Arnold Jones, Scott Whitehair, and Geraldine Buckley in evening shows. This was my first time working with Scott, who quickly won over the crowd with his sensitive, truthful stories of human conditions. 

The regional storytellers are the true gems at this festival. I met and worked with a few dozen volunteer tellers and librarians who had great stories to share and a real love for storytelling. This is a group of story lovers who I would love to get to know more. Missouri is fertile with tellers and telling organizations! Check out for a glimpse of the strength of a local Guild. And did I mention the BBQ we had between shows? KC is hard to beat!

Another highlight of the festival was the evening of ghost stories, which really was an evening of spooky tales. And we were spooked! Images of Sheila's raven are still with me. 

Kudos to founding director Joyce Slater and all of the great librarians, tellers, and support team that help to make this "sweet" festival such a great event.