MCC’s 16th annual KC Storytelling Celebration kicks off Nov. 4

If it’s autumn in Kansas City, it’s time to gather around and hear a good story. Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods will present its 16th annual Kansas City Storytelling Celebration Nov. 4-7 at locations around Kansas City, including several libraries.

Milbre Burch
Milbre Burch

More than 20 public events will entertain a variety of audiences, including senior citizens, schoolchildren and families. All are free and open to the public.

+ The kickoff of this year’s festival will take place 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at MCC-Maple Woods’ Student Center, Room 132 A and B. It will include appearances by this year’s four featured storytellers: Milbre Burch, Baba Jamal Koram, Bil Lepp and Olga Loya.

+ The featured tellers will also be center stage on Saturday, Nov. 7, for a full day of storytelling fun and excitement at MCC-Maple Woods (Campus Center and Student Center) starting at 9:30 a.m. Events include storytelling workshops for youth and adults as well as shows for the entire family. Brown-bag lunches will be for sale as well.

+ At 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, a “Storytelling Spectacular” for ages 10 and up will also feature Burch, Koram, Lepp and Loya.

The Storytelling Celebration features narratives and experiences from all genres: folk tales, fairytales, tall tales, fantasy, fiction and personal life stories. All will share the spotlight to bring audiences a unique understanding of the world at large and their own lives.

Baba Jamal Koram
Baba Jamal Koram

Since its inception in 1999, the Kansas City Storytelling Celebration has grown to serve more than 20,000 people metro-wide. New sites and school districts continue to join the event. Culturally diverse tellers, both local and national, encourage a positive dialogue about the similarities – not differences – among all races, religions and economic statuses.

For a complete list of events and tellers, visit the Kansas City Storytelling Celebration website at kcstorytelling.org.

This year’s featured storytellers:

Milbre Burch of Columbia, Missouri, is a Grammy-nominated recording artist, an internationally known storyteller, a published poet and writer, and a sought-after storytelling coach and teaching artist. Bridging the mythic and the personal, Burch creates original works that bring the power of story into contemporary performances of power and grace. http://www.kindcrone.com/

Bil Lepp
Bil Lepp

Baba Jamal Koram of Alexandria, Virginia, prides himself on being an organic storyteller. Organic storytelling, he says, is a recognition of the individuality of the audience and a sensitivity to place and time in the telling of story. He offers training and workshops for youth, professional tellers and pre-school and K-2 children that focus on training storytellers to become conscious, capable and competent in the presentation of their art. http://www.griostoryman.com/

Bil Lepp of South Charleston, West Virginia, calls himself a “champion liar.” His outrageous, humorous tall tales and witty stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages and from all walks of life. Though he may be lying, Lepp’s stories often contain morsels of truth that shed light on universal themes. Whether he’s at a funeral or the dentist’s office, Lepp can find the humor in any situation. And while his stories may not be completely true, they are always honest. http://leppstorytelling.com/

Olga Loya
Olga Loya

Olga Loya of San Jose, California, is a nationally known Latina storyteller, performance artist, keynote speaker and author who dramatically and vividly mixes Spanish and English in her performances. Her repertoire reveals the diversity and richness of our collective culture in its commonality and individuality. Loya also performs an extensive repertoire of colorful tales from around the world that entertain and awaken the awareness of other cultures. http://www.olgaloya.com/home.html