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Murray Journal

Wanna hear a story? Murray residents invited to listen

Mar 05, 2019 03:15PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Mara Menzies, from Scotland, tells a story at Murray’s 2017 Story Crossroads festival. (Photo courtesy of Janine Nishiguchi)

By Shaun Delliskave | s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

You can become a well-known storytelling virtuoso. Learn to spin yarns that will enchant your friends by attending one of Murray Cultural Arts’ Storytelling Residencies. Residency participants will be invited to share their stories at the Murray Storytelling Showcase on April 20, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Murray City Library. Or, you can just pull up a chair and listen. 

“The purpose of the Murray Storytelling Residencies is to provide an opportunity for children, teens, and adults to develop story writing, storytelling, and public speaking skills,” explained Katie Lindquist, who oversees this offering through Murray City Parks & Recreation.

The three afterschool residencies are held at Liberty Elementary, Murray Library, and the Murray City Senior Recreation Center. Murray school children have been participating at the library and Liberty Elementary since January. Adults and seniors are invited to participate at the Senior Recreation Center on Mondays and Wednesdays, 1 to 2:30 p.m., from now through April 3.

“Professional storytellers work with students either in the schools or at afterschool residency locations. Students are taught basic story writing and telling techniques and practice performing in front of an audience,” said Lindquist. “Finalists will be selected from each grade and will perform in a citywide Storytelling Showcase. Finalists from the Showcase will move on to perform at the countywide Story Crossroads Festival.”

Murray City held its first Storytelling Festival in 2013 with 17 participants. Murray City Cultural Arts collaborated with professional storyteller Holly Robison, a member of the National Storytelling Network, who had been involved in several storytelling festivals in Utah. With her help, professional storytellers were recruited to work with students within the elementary and secondary schools in Murray City. Students were taught basic techniques and the fundamentals of how to create material and were coached as they prepared for a local school storytelling experience. 

In 2016, finalists from the Murray Storytelling Festival were invited to tell their stories at the first countywide Story Crossroads Festival. The program has grown over the years; 50 student storytellers participated at the 2018 festival. Finalists from this year’s Murray Storytelling Showcase will get to participate in the 4th annual county event, Story Crossroads, to be held May 15, in Murray Park and at other county facilities.

Story Crossroads is a non-profit Utah-based event that features 15 professional multicultural story artists as well as over 40 community members in the main-stage event. Audience members will enjoy stories told with both ancient techniques and novel approaches. Finalist storytellers at this festival will receive an invitation to the World Story Crossroads, which launches in 2022.

Storytelling classes and festivals are experiencing a resurgence as podcasts have become more popular and diverse. Podcast production used to require a broadcast studio, but readily available new technology and software programs are now available to assist novice podcasters. Podcasts covering topics that range from politics to fly fishing are available for download on smartphones. 

There are also more live-performance opportunities for local storytellers. Open-mic nights have sprouted up in restaurants such as The Royal, a bar and nightclub at 4760 S. 900 East, and National Public Radio’s “The Moth Radio Hour” storytelling radio show has toured to packed concert halls all over the country, including here in Utah.

“Everyone has a story to tell, but storytelling is a skill that can be developed and used as a tool for effective public speaking and writing. Public speaking allows us to influence decisions, form connections, and motivate change around us. Our Storytelling Residencies are a great way to learn those basic skills and work with professional storytellers in a workshop-type setting,” said Lindquist.

More information about the Murray Storytelling Showcase can be found online at www.murray.utah.gov/1293/Murray-Storytelling-Showcase.