Judith Black, a well-rounded performer known for her crisp comedic work, offbeat historical stories and folk tales, will be the next teller in the International Storytelling Center’s Storytelling Live! series. Also known as the Teller-in-Residence program, Storytelling Live! imports a new master teller into Jonesborough every week to serve as the town’s resident storytelling expert.
A dedicated, but never didactic, environmentalist, Black plans to share her new story “Bug Girl,” which premiered at the National Storytelling Festival last year. The tale came out of her desire to develop a story that addresses climate activism without putting people off. “The truth is, I want to avoid stories that sound self-righteous. No storyteller aspires to that,” she says. “I think it’s a darn good yarn.”
Though climate change is important to Black, she understands why it’s not a front-burner issue for everyone. “Most of us aren’t hard-wired to see a picture larger than the here and now that we live in,” she says. “But if we don’t expand our vision, our planet will become unlivable.”
Black is also a dedicated student of American history who seems determined to single-handedly overhaul the subject’s dusty reputation. “Those stories are just wonderful because they’re new vantage points on times and places that we think we know so well,” she says. “Suddenly, you look at it through other eyes, and you learn new truths and old facts. It’s a very exciting process because it just broadens the way we think about who we are and what our nation is.”
As Jonesborough’s storyteller for the week, Black will host a series of matinee concerts July 25 – 29 (Tuesday through Saturday), beginning daily at 2 p.m. Tickets are just $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students and children under 18 for all performances. Reservations are highly recommended.
All concerts are downtown in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall, which is located in the International Storytelling Center, just off Main Street.
In addition to the afternoon concerts, the storyteller will also host a special performance-workshop event, “Retiring the Champ,” on Thursday, July 27, at 9:30 a.m.
“It will start with a story about helping my mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer’s,” Black says. “It’s a really great template for helping your elders through the last three years of their lives.” A brief workshop portion with breakout sessions and group discussion will follow.
The 2017 season of Storytelling Live! will extend through the end of October. Note that ticketholders can present their ticket stubs for a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at JJ’s Eatery and Ice Cream or Main Street Café, two popular eateries in Jonesborough. Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net.
The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is the Heart & Soul program of Mountain States Health Alliance. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the East Tennessee Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Niswonger Foundation, Citi and Food City.
The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.