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Antonio Rocha is a Brazilian-born performer coming to the Forest Storytelling Festival in Port Angeles this month.

International storytellers to spin tales at Port Angeles festival

PORT ANGELES — The sound is soft, but it slips a shiver up the backbone. No mistaking it: a jungle animal’s growl.

It’s coming from a man who has just transformed himself into a jaguar. A second ago, this lithe human was a macaw, brilliant plumage and all. A second before that, he was a boy needing to find his way home.

This is Antonio Rocha, the Brazilian-born performer coming to the Forest Storytelling Festival — along with a lineup of other tellers — for a weekend of public workshops and concerts.

The 23rd annual festival by the Story People of Clallam County comes to the Little Theater at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Friday through Sunday, Oct. 20-22.

It will bring tellers from across the world: Rocha plus Hawaiian-Japanese performer Alton Takiyama-Chung; the Rev. Robert Jones, a storyteller and blues singer from Detroit; Jennifer Ferris of Victoria; and Elizabeth Ellis, a Southern grand dame and winner of the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence prize.

“We’ve got some hotshot talent coming in,” Takiyama-Chung said.

“The audience is going to have a great time,” whether they check out a concert, a workshop or both.

Tickets are on sale now for the festival. A full weekend of events is $85. Events also are priced individually. Children younger than 10 will be admitted free, while children ages 10-18 and Peninsula College students with a current Student Activity Card will pay half-price for all storytelling events.

To purchase tickets, go to www.ClallamStoryPeople.org.

A sampling of the tales festivalgoers will hear:

• An exploding whale story — based on a real-life dynamite incident — from Takiyama-Chung.

• Ferris’ true tale of a race to save the men on a doomed sailing ship off the Vancouver Island coast.

• Delta Blues songs and shout-outs to singers like Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley, from the Rev. Jones.

• At least one story from Niterói, Rocha’s boyhood home on Brazil’s Guanabara Bay.

The workshops on Saturday morning will include Jones’ “Telling Your Family Story,” Ferris’ “Taking the Mystery out of Improv Storytelling” and Ellis’ “Prepare to Scare,” all about spooky tales.

“We do try to make the festival culturally diverse. That’s one of the things that makes it special,” said event director Chris Wright.

She saw Jones perform at another festival in Texas and “just fell in love with him … He tells stories about the Civil Rights Movement” that she finds relevant today.

Jones brings you from tears to laughter in a matter of a moment, Wright said. She saw him lift his Texas listeners to a standing ovation.

Following tradition, the Forest Storytelling Festival also has a story swap that Saturday afternoon, a free concert of inspirational stories at 10 a.m. that Sunday and two raffles: one for Mo Harrah’s handmade quilt and another for a $1,000 Costco Wholesale gift certificate.

This year, a story slam — a competition for tellers of personal, true stories — will take place in addition to the swap. For those who want to partake in the slam, the theme is “Out of the Blue.”

“I would recommend this festival as one of best,” Ferris said. “You really get to know excellent tellers through concerts and workshops.”

Rocha, in his distinctive voice, added his own take.

“Storytelling is a time for communion. A time to connect,” he said, “and see the you in me and the me in you. It is a time to make friends and realize our own humanity.”

Event details and registration information await at www.ClallamStoryPeople.org. To speak to a real person, phone director Chris Wright at 360-452-8092 or Jan Lamont for registration questions at 425-273-5929.

Events are in the Little Theater at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, unless otherwise noted. Tickets are available on the website and, if still available, at the door.

Friday, Oct. 20

• 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Pre-festival workshop with Elizabeth Ellis, “Build a Better Mousetrap”; $50; advance sign-up required.

• 6 p.m. — Little Theater doors open; ticket sales available for individual events and for a full festival pass, $85.

7 p.m. — Opening concert with Ellis, Alton Takiyama-Chung, the Rev. Robert Jones, Jennifer Ferris and Antonio Rocha; $15.

Saturday, Oct. 21

8:30 a.m. — Doors open.

9 a.m. — Choice of three workshops, $20 each. Workshops are “Crossing Cultural Borders: Collecting and Telling Stories from Another Culture” with Takiyama-Chung, “Transitions in Eloquence” with Rocha, Maier Hall at Peninsula College and “Make Friends with Your Microphone and Sound System” with Erran Sharpe; Room J-47 at Peninsula College.

10:30 a.m. — Choice of three workshops, $20 each. Workshops are “Prepare to Scare” with Ellis; “Taking the Mystery out of Improv Storytelling” with Ferris, Maier Hall; and “Telling Your Family Story” with Jones; Room J-47.

• 12:30 p.m. — Story swap and open mic; Room J-47; free.

1:30 to 3:45 p.m. — Three storytelling concerts, $15. They are Randi Moe opening for Rocha at 1:30 p.m., Lee Porteous opening for Ferris at 2:45 p.m. and Mary Diessen opening for Jones at 3:34 p.m.

7:30 p.m. — All five featured tellers in concert; $20

Sunday, Oct. 22

• 10 a.m. — Concert of Inspirational Stories with five featured tellers and opener Pam Maben; free

12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. — Final storytelling concert with two featured tellers, $10. They are Ingrid Nixon opening for Ellis and the Baltuck-Gerrard family opening for Takiyama-Chung.


Erran Sharpe is the president of the Story People of Clallam County.

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