Monday, October 01, 2007

Off to Jonesborough this week

I'm going to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. Can't wait! I went for five years in a row, 1989-1993, then in 2001, when I performed at the Exchange Place (the regional stage). I haven't been back since. It's time.

The festival is markedly different from the National Storytelling Conference. The conference consists mostly of workshops on the art of storytelling, and there are around 500 participants. At the festival, there are literally thousands of people and the main activity is listening to stories.

It's intense. From Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon, Jonesborough is filled with the sound of stories, laughter, applause, conversation between stories, and the occasional train passing through town. The train is a running joke with the storytellers, some of whom wait, some of whom incorporate it into the story, some of whom launch into "I've been workin' on the railroad" whether it fits the story or not. Since I live a short block from the tracks, I wonder if I'll even notice (there are 50-75 trains that pass here every day).

The first couple of years I went to Jonesborough, I tried to go to every session--I was afraid I'd miss something. It was exhausting. Now my plan is to go to one of the six tents and find a good seat to listen in for a while, then take a break, walk around town, look at the bookstore tent, then find another place to hear stories. I haven't decided if I'll go to the midnight cabarets. Depends on my energy. I'm essentially a morning person and an introvert, so I need to recharge by being alone. I'm looking forward to hearing new stories and seeing old friends, but I'll probably disappear every now and then.

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