Storytelling: a captivating experience
By Frank Gaydos
Susan Page and Stephanie Medlock, co-organizers of the upcoming San Miguel Storytelling Festival, discuss what to expect
Frank Gaydos: Why is San Miguel a good place for a storytelling festival?
Susan Page: San Miguel is a mecca for all the arts. People love to come to this magical town, with its architectural treasures and its lively community. The Chamber Music Festival, the Film Festival, the Writers‘ Conference, the Fringe Festival, the Diez Minutos Festival—all are wildly successful. The only event missing from San Miguel—until now—was an all-day storytelling festival.
Stephanie Medlock: When I approached Susan with the idea of bringing a storytelling festival to San Miguel, she was immediately enthusiastic and on board. I’m impressed with how quickly things started lining up.
FG: What can audiences expect from this storytelling festival?
SM: It will take place on one day, October 18, at Bellas Artes. We’re planning for 14 storytellers during the morning session and another 14 in the afternoon. Each storyteller will talk for about seven minutes. This will be a judged competition with cash prizes, and the audience will get to vote for their favorite stories.
SP: I attended the large and famous Jonesborough Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, several years ago. I was captivated by the variety of stories and the very great skill of the storytellers. Some stories were moving, some were funny, some were educational. I was carried away to different worlds.
FG: Can anyone get on the stage and tell their story during the festival?
SM: Of the 28 storytellers planned, we hope to find 20 local storytellers. However, storytellers first need to audition their seven-minute piece, which must be a true story, before earning a spot in the lineup. If telling stories is something you have an impulse to do, I strongly encourage you to audition.
SP: To add a housekeeping note, auditions will be held at the Biblioteca on September 11 and September 12. For details, please email Cheri Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FG: Will the festival include any Spanish-speaking storytellers?
SP: We gave it serious discussion and concluded we can’t offer a bilingual program this year, much to our disappointment. We’re just not there yet, but it is something we expect to offer next year.
SM: Toward that end, we are inviting two Mexican storytellers to our workshop at the festival’s expense. They’ll learn special workshop techniques. Our plan is to have them teach a similar storytelling workshop in Spanish next year.
FG: Any closing comments you’d like to make?
SP: I‘m guessing that San Miguel audiences will adore this festival. They flock to all types of cultural events, and this one will be especially entertaining. I know last year Evie King and Mariana Williams, two wonderful storytellers from southern California, held a similar storytelling event here in town, and it was very successful.
SM: We’re not only looking for a few good storytellers. We’re also looking for a few good listeners. So stay tuned for more details in the weeks ahead.
Susan Page is the co-founder of San Miguel Literary Sala and the Executive Director of the San Miguel Writers’ Conference and Literary Festival. A part-time resident of San Miguel, Stephanie Medlock is a professional storyteller with Indigan Storytellers (Indiana-Michigan).