WTAMU to host annual storytelling festival


“Knot Your Average Folktale” is the focus of the 2018 West Texas A&M University Storytelling Festival featuring Irish-American storyteller and musician Tom McDermott May 4 on campus.

The one-day festival includes kids concerts in the Branding Iron Theatre at 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., an afternoon storytelling workshop facilitated by McDermott at 2 p.m. in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex, Room 176, and an evening concert at 7 p.m. in the Branding Iron Theatre. The festival has been produced by the Department of Communication each spring since 1991, and this year’s featured performance is made possible by support from the WTAMU Guest Artist Series.

“This festival is one that brings together a tradition of storytelling that has been carried on for centuries,” Brittany Garner, communication graduate student, said. “To be able to bring the beauty, fun and fantasy of these stories to the people of the Panhandle is something we are more than thrilled to do.”

Using instruments such as the guitar, ukulele, hurdy gurdy, theremin, bodhran, lyre, flute and drums, McDermott combines music with original and adapted traditional stories to engage listeners in laughter, critical thought and creativity. A highly requested performer at festivals, theatres and professional conferences throughout the United States and Canada, McDermott facilitates drum circles and “found sound” workshops for businesses, churches and campuses. These workshops focus on team building, community development and personal wellness. His original songs can be found on the children’s recording Cooperation Garden Time and Revenge. He also is the author of The Ghouls Go Haunting One by One, published by Pelican Press. His fervor and undeniable skill for storytelling have earned him numerous awards including the John Henry Faulk Award from the Tejas Storytelling Association and a first-place award for storytelling with music at the Irish Storytelling Festival in 2003.   

“‘Knot Your Average Folktale’ highlights the depth and width of the scope of storytelling - there’s not one way to tell a story, and we’re excited to showcase a variety of tales that will make you laugh, cry and everything in between,” Tessa Davis, communication graduate student, said.       

Accompanying McDermott, 13 WTAMU graduate students enrolled in the Art of Storytelling graduate seminar produce the festival as well as perform during the evening concert. Those students include Tessa Davis from Claude; Adam Gonzales, Pampa; Katie Stringer, Spring; Amanda Brookhart, Hereford; Rebecca Hager, Fritch; Brittany Garner, San Antonio; Oladunni Olokose, Lagos, Nigeria; James Hadnot, Arlington; Laura Dangerfield, Boerne; James Hill, Lefors; Brianna Lemaster, Amarillo; Mireya Jacuinde, Hereford; and Megan Tilley, Andrews.

The annual festival is directed by Dr. Trudy Hanson. The afternoon workshop and evening performance are free and open to the public. For reservations, contact Hanson at 806-651-2800 or by email thanson@wtamu.edu.

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