FARMINGTON – We all have the potential to be storytellers.
Local residents will get the chance to explore that possibility for themselves at Farmington’s upcoming Storytelling Festival, set for Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Community Art Center. The event, currently in its ninth year, offers open mic and StoryPlay opportunities for those who want to be a part of bringing a story to life.
“Many people have a secret desire to be on-stage, and most have a story they’d like to tell,” said festival organizer Karl Behling. “But they are not sure anyone would listen, or they’re a little shy about talking in front of a group, or they think storytelling is only for the pros.”
As usual, the festival will also include appearances from professional storytellers. Holly Robison, Sharon Rogers, Alan Griffin and Behling himself will be on hand for a grand finale concert starting at 2 p.m. Starting at 10 a.m., there will also be storytellers of all ages in one of four themed rooms that people can visit.
“All of the storytellers themselves are highly experienced, wonderfully engaging performers,” he said. “Listening to their stories you will appreciate what it is to be human, and quite probably awaken a desire to tell your own stories.”
If that happens, the festival will offer plenty of opportunities to share them from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The StoryPlay, which was introduced at last year’s festival, lets participants create an impromptu play based on a well-known story.
Storytellers narrate and prompt participants, who are cast as the story’s different characters. Simple props such as hats and wigs are provided.
“We use stories that can expand to include as many as want to participate,” said Behling. “It’s usually quite informal, and we can do two or three stories in an hour’s time.”
During that same time, participants can also take their turn telling the entire story on their own. During open mic, participants of all ages are invited to share a story from their lives or imaginations.
“We set up a very non-threatening environment, get the stories rolling, then invite folks who want to give it a try,” said Behling. “Oftentimes the teenagers will jump right up, but usually there are a few grownups in the back who finally give in.”
He added that these adults are often his favorite part of open mic.
“Almost without exception these reluctant grownups have a fantastic, fascinating story that just comes tumbling out,” said Behling. “It’s a privilege to be there listening.”
Entrance to the festival costs $1, which covers all activities. Food will also be available for purchase at the festival. For more information, visit farmington.utah.gov/specialevents.storytellingfestival.html.
“We have a loyal following, but hope that more of our friends and neighbors will see that storytelling is real, accessible, vastly enjoyable fun at very little (or no) expense,” said Behling. “We would be thrilled if everyone in Davis County knew what a treasure they have right here in Farmington.”