Punctuating his performance with the djembe drum, the storyteller and poet Oba William King will keep the beat as the International Storytelling Center’s next teller in residence, July 23 – 27. As part of the acclaimed Storytelling Live! series, which hosts a new performer for matinee performances each week Tuesday through Saturday, Williams will share a mix of folk tales and stories about history, especially African-American life. “I humbly hope to fill up the space with the energy that I have in my heart,” the teller says. In addition to daily performances at 2 p.m., King will host a special children’s concert on Saturday, July 27, at 10:30 a.m. The show is geared towards ages six through ten, with all ages welcome. All tickets are just $5, and ticket holders will receive coupons for 15 percent off at The Lollipop Shop, a popular Main Street store that sells old-fashioned sweets and toys. All concerts will be at ISC’s downtown Jonesborough location.
King, who is often called the Poetic Storyteller, came of age in Chicago, a city rich with tradition that has informed his work. As a young man, one of his mentors was the poet and Pulitzer Prize-winner Gwendolyn Brooks. His stories are heavily influenced by the poetic tradition and the flavor of world music. Growing up, Sunday was always dedicated to stories. King and his grandparents often stayed after church to catch up with what was happening with others in the community. Today he still sees storytelling as a community-building tool. “I think that part of our work is to find ways to grow together, to work together, and to take our differences and use them to empower ourselves and teach our young people to be better than we were,” he says. “That’s part of our job, and I feel like I’m doing my part. I’m using the gift that God gave me to help teach and make the world a better place.”
Reservations for King’s performances at ISC are recommended, but not required; walk-in seating will be available for shows that don’t sell out. Tickets for all matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Discounted season passes are still available for a very limited time. More exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase. The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.
Storytelling Live! will run through the end of October, with special encore performances through the rest of the year.
The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit www.storytellingcenter.net or call (800) 952-8392.