By Tia Lynn Ivey
Captivating tales were told beneath the historic bell tower of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center (MMCC) last weekend during a two-day family-friendly event, the Fourth Annual Do Tell Storytelling Festival. Skilled storytellers dazzled the crowds in the hundreds with lively performances. Attendees were also treated to live music, art exhibits, a barbeque, a beer and wine garden, and workshops. According to the MMCC, the grand finale performance on Friday night’s event featured “nationally recognized tellers. The MMCC Bill Lepp, Elizabeth Ellis, and Michael Reno Harrell who told comical stories about growing up in the South.
“The Storytelling Festival is part of MMCC’s Mainstage seriwes. MMCC is dedicated to offering high quality performances in all art forms – music, dance, theater, spoken word – the storytelling festival presents storytellers that have been nationally-recognized for their talent and their ability to bring a new perspective to the idea of storytelling,” said Rebecca Bonas, performing arts director for the MMCC.
The Jack Davis exhibit was open on display in the Center’s newly renovated galleries, too. Tickets were$15 per adult and $5 per student. Admission to the Friday Night portion of the festival cost $10 and children under 12 got in for free on Friday Night. The Family Festival on Saturday was free and open to everybody.
The MMCC was particularly excited about this year’s line up. According to the MMCC, Bill Lepp is “an internationally-known storyteller and humorist. A five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Context, his outrageous tall-tales and witty stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages.He is an award-winning author and recording artist, and has been featured at venues across the nation, including a recent appearance on Comedy Central. Lepp is the recipient of the Storytelling Circle of Excellence Award.”“This isn’t children’s storytelling! One attendee called the Festival “Madison’s answer to Blue Collar Comedy.” These tellers are full of humor and wit and are highly entertaining,” said Bonas.According to the MMCC, “Michael Reno Harrell is an award-winning songwriter, veteran storyteller, and captivating entertaining” and “Elizabeth Ellis is a recipient of both the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Excellence Award from theNational Storytelling Network.”Debbie From, another contributed to the festival, “is a artist who grew up listening to the her favorite storytellers—her family! Now she shares folktales and original stories with audiences of all ages.”
The Kennesaw State University (KSU) Tellers also made an appearance during the festival. “The KSU is an undergraduate storytelling troupe based in the Department of Theatre & Performance Studies at Kennesaw State University. The Tellers focus on developing a repertoire of original solo and ensemble pieces that utilize performance as a mode of inquiry, self-expression, and entertainment.”
According to the MMCC,
The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center is a multi-disciplinary non-profit arts organization located in a renovated 1895 Romanesque Revival school building in historic Madison, GA. Through the performing and visual arts, the Center serves a multi-county area and maintains an active membership base. The Cultural Center is handicap accessible and offers hearing devices for its audience members. For more information about the Cultural Center, please visit www.mmcc-arts.org or call 706-342-4743 (877-233-0598 toll free). The Center is located at 434 S. Main Street, Madison.The Knox Foundation and Law Firm of O. Elizabeth Bell sponsored the event. Children Ferst Foundation, the Madison-Morgan Boys and Girls Club, and the Madison Artists Guild partered with the MMCC for the Saturday afternoon portion of the festival. According to the MMCC, it was a “hands-on afternoon Festival for the whole family [where] stories come to life through books, art, games and spoken word.”