The Taos Storytelling Festival

Once upon a time...

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No matter one's age, hearing the words, "Once upon a time" invites wonder and anticipation of what story is about to be told.

Older than written words, spoken word can be traced back for centuries and is grounded in the oral customs of many cultures around the world. Spoken word keeps memories alive, passes down stories for generations, educates, enlightens and entertains

On Oct. 13 and 14, you are invited to attend an event that stirs the imagination, evokes deep laughter and perhaps even a few tears. Welcome to storytelling, an art form that fills your mind, body and heart. A good storyteller can weave you through the spectrum of emotion and create an image that returns months and years later; a line, metaphor, or moral that sticks with us — an intellectual anchor that we can draw upon. Being engaged with a fine storyteller is a work out for the soul; a bright mode of communication and connection in this quick throw-away society. Society of the Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS) has created an annual event that provides just this kind of outlet and entertainment.

The 18th annual two-day spoken word event features engaging stories woven and delivered by nationally acclaimed tellers, a story slam, story swap, workshops and children's stories staged at the SOMOS Salon and at Taos Community Auditorium (TCA).

This year's theme is "Generosity." Featured storytellers include Andy Offutt Irwin, Taos' treasured word master Cisco Guevara, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommerand and one of the pioneers of the spoken word movement, James Navé. Some of Taos' finest tellers will compete in a StorySLAM with the event's theme. Other features of the event include a youth- and an adult-centered storytelling workshop,  a story swap and a storytelling concert.

Tickets are available at the door. Many of the events are free. Partial proceeds will help fund the SOMOS Young Writer's Program.

The storytellers:

Andy Offutt Irwin: Oft-awarded Offutt Irwin is described in press materials as having a "silly putty voice, hilarious heart-filled stories, and amazing mouth noises (arguably, the greatest whistler in the world) ." He is billed as a one-person-showman who is equal parts "mischievous schoolboy and the Marx Brothers, peppered with a touch of the Southern balladeer." One of the most sought after performing storytellers in the United States, he is especially known for relating the adventures of his 85-year-old-widowed, newly minted physician/aunt, Marguerite Van Camp, a woman who avoids curmudgeonship by keeping her finger on the pulse of the changing world around her as she seeks to grow — even at her advanced age — in the New South. Marguerite steps lively through this existence, loving as many people as she can.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer: Storyteller and poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer resides in Southwest Colorado. Her work has appeared in O Magazine, on "A Prairie Home Companion," in back alleys and in her children’s lunchboxes. Wahtola Trommerhas  taught poetry, writing and storytelling for Think 360, The Aesthetic Education Institute of Colorado, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Weehawken Arts and Camp Coca-Cola, not to mention dozens of libraries, schools and businesses. She served as San Miguel County’s first poet laureate and directed the Telluride Writers Guild for a decade. She also performs with Telluride’s seven-woman a cappella group "Heartbeat," and sings nightly for her children.

Francisco “Cisco” Guevara: Local favorite and natural storyteller Francisco “Cisco” Guevara has performed in past several festivals, will also grace the TCA stage. He is an experienced Río Grande whitewater rafting guide and regales his adventurous passengers with stories of the wild. Guevara is a multi-generational New Mexican who came to Taos, he says, on the day he was born. He gets his tales from his Hispanic and Indian heritage and has a profound historical understanding of New Mexico. And, yes, his stories are outrageously true. "He knows which trail the bandits followed when they buried their loot in 1897," as stated in press materials."Some say he understands the language of the beaver, the mountain lion and the famous dipper bird which walks under water."

James Navé: Navé is not only a prolific storyteller, but is also the director of The Taos Storytelling Festival, one of the pioneers of the spoken word movement and a cofounder of Poetry Alive!, a theater company which has performed poetry in front of more than 10 million K–12 students around the world. With Julia Cameron, he co-founded and directed The Artist’s Way Creativity Camp, which toured North America. He has taught writing, performance, and creativity on five continents over a 25-year span. Navé has also worked with corporations and other institutions, having designed and facilitated executive creativity sessions for clients such as Timex, Pepsi, the National University of Ireland Galway, North Carolina Outward Bound, Gettliffe Architecture, Create to Heal and LKB Associates, Paris. He has been the LEAF Poetry Slam Master since the festival began in 1995. He is the director of the Taos Poetry Festival as well and co-founder of Twice-5-Miles, a creative think tank.

Tickets can be purchased at the door to all events. Or bought in advance for the Saturday night show at the TCA, 133 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte. Call the TCA to reserve your tickets at (575) 758-2052. Email Festival Director James Navé for more information or call/text him at (919) 949-2113. Free events are noted on the schedule below. All public events will take place at the SOMOS Salon, 108-B Civic Plaza Drive in Taos except for the Saturday, Oct. 14, evening show at the TCA.

2017 Taos Storytelling Festival Schedule

StorySLAM: Friday, Oct. 13, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Sign up for StorySLAM at 6:30 p.m. The StorySLAM runs from 7-9 p.m. The Story-SLAM/Theme: Generosity and is hosted by James Navé.

Come to the StorySLAM and put your name in the hat for a chance tell a true 6-minute story on the theme of generosity. The StorySLAM will feature 10 storytellers (names picked from the hat) competing for an opportunity to tell the winning story with the featured storytellers on the festival's main stage at the TCA on Saturday night. Rules: No rote memorization, smart phones, notes, books or paper allowed on stage. Tell a true-story of your life on the theme of generosity. Practice your story until you can tell with ease like you were sitting around a campfire. Held at the SOMOS Salon: 108-B Civic Plaza Drive, Taos. Admission: SOMOS members:$8/non-members $10. Students 18 and under admitted free.

Youth Centered Storytelling Workshop: "Swing Your Stories", Saturday, Oct. 14, 10-11:30 a.m. Facilitated by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and James Navé, travel through your imagination with these master storytellers. In this youth-centered workshop, Wahtola Trommer and Navé will blend their poetic styles into this lively storytelling workshop, which will inspire you to tell your stories with great joy. Join them and make your storytelling magic happen. Held at the SOMOS Salon: 108-B Civic Plaza Drive, Taos/Admission is free.

Adult Centered Storytelling Workshop: "Fibbers Can Tell the Truth", 12:45-3:15 p.m. In this workshop facilitated by Andy Offutt Irwin, you will explore the notion of how a fiction can serve the truth of your story. Does anyone care if your car was blue or green? Is it okay to give a different house number if you forget the real number? Does it matter if you remember "whether it snowed for six days and six nights when you were 12 or whether it snowed for 12 days and 12 nights when you were six?" Storytelling is a flexible art. How big was that fish anyway? Offutt Irwin is one of the best storytellers in the country; sign up for this delightful workshop. No lie. Held at the SOMOS Salon: 108-B Civic Plaza Drive, Taos. Admission is $25 SOMOS members/$35 non-members. Students 18 and under admitted free.

Story-SWAP: 3:30-5 p.m. Have a story to tell? The Story-SWAP is the perfect place to present your story. Sign up is at 3:30 PM. The Story-SWAP begins at 3:45 PM. The time limit is 6 minutes per storyteller. All styles are welcome. Hosted by James Navé. Held at the SOMOS Salon: 108-B Civic Plaza Drive, Taos. Admission free.

"Stars Shine Bright" Storytelling Concert: 6:30-9 p.m. Show features headliners Andy Offutt Irwin, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Cisco Guevara and is hosted by James Navé. Held at the TCA, 133 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos. Admission is $15 in advance/$20 at the door. Students 18 and under admitted free.

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