By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The festival, which starts today, celebrates the tradition of storytelling, an art that combines theater and literature, with performances by six internationally known storytellers as well as six North Olympic Peninsula artists.
“It began as a dream,” said Cherie Trebon, Forest Storytelling Festival director.
The Story People of Clallam County started as a guild in 1992 to promote the art form on the Peninsula.
One of the guild's founding members, Josephine Pedersen, dreamed of gathering noted storytellers in Port Angeles — and it happened, Trebon said.
“It was like the 'Field of Dreams': Hold it, and they will come,” she said.
Some of the best
Trebon said the Port Angeles storytelling event has become a gathering of some of the best storytellers in the country.
The event grew from a room in the Port Angeles Senior Center to the college's Little Theater, with the addition of several campus classrooms used for storytelling workshops, she said.
It also includes storytelling for children.
Today, students from four schools — Dry Creek, Franklin and Jefferson elementary schools in Port Angeles, and Greywolf Elementary School in Sequim — will take part in storytelling events designed for children.
The children's storytelling events are not open to the public.
Public storytelling tonight
The first public event will begin with a “storytelling concert” featuring storytelling masters Bill Harley, Lyn Ford, Robert Owens Greygrass, Will Hornyak and Allison Cox in Peninsula College's Little Theater at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
The storytelling concert will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Admission to the concerts is $12 per person. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Registration opens at 6 p.m.
Port Angeles singer-songwriter Paul Chasman will perform at 7 p.m. today to entertain guests waiting for the storytelling event, Trebon said.
All events will be held in Peninsula College's Little Theater, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Performing in the concert:
■ National Public Radio commentator and singer-songwriter Harley, who wrote “My Sarajevo,” a stage play set during the Bosnian War.
■ Ford, an “Afrilachian” storyteller — one who specializes in African-American heritage in Appalachia — an art passed down in her family.
She performs folktale adaptations, spooky tales and original stories that often use call and response, choral response, rhythm and rhyme.
■ Greygrass, a mixed-heritage storyteller with Lakota, French and Irish ancestry, draws on traditional, spiritual practices of listening to Lakota elders and created his own style that includes rapid-fire personal stories, ironic experiences and twisted insights in the human experience.
■ Hornyak, who started out as a newspaper reporter in Latin America, learned storytelling while working as a carpenter in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore.
He draws inspiration from Irish legends, Mexican fables, Russian fairy tales and Native American myths.
■ Cox, a Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department prevention specialist, tells stories that promote good health.
She also shares Celtic tales at storytelling events that specialize in cultural heritage.
Storytellers from the Story People of Clallam County — Howard Adler, Bonnie Anderson, Margret Lott, Mary Anne Moorman and Vi Nixon — also will perform.
A full weekend pass to the festival costs $75, and individual events cost $12 to $20. Children ages 10 to 16 and Peninsula College students pay half-price.
Two events will be free to the public.
On Saturday, the Open Mic Story Swap begins at 12:15 p.m.
A Concert of Inspirational Stories at 10 a.m. Sunday also will be free to the public.
Pat Peterson will emcee the festival.
Peterson has told traditional and original tales to audiences of all ages for more than 25 years.
The annual quilt raffle continues this year,with a blue, green and purple vertical floral and herringbone pattern quilt made and donated by Phyllis Luther.
The quilt drawing will take place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
A complete schedule is available on the Story People website at www.dancingleaves.com/storypeople.
For more information, phone Trebon at 360-417-5031 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Storytelling Festival is sponsored by Peninsula College, the Washington State Arts Commission, KUOW Radio, Port Angeles Hotel/Motel Tax Fund, First Federal, 7 Cedars Casino, The Bushwhacker restaurant, Strait-View Credit Union, John W. Wright Antiques & Silver, Seattle Storytellers Guild, South Sound Story Guild, Mount Tahoma Storytelling Guild, Portland Storytelling Guild, AmeriCorps and the Story People of Clallam County.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.