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Storyteller explores the extraordinary stories of ordinary people

staff report • Aug 20, 2011 at 1:56 AM

Storyteller Dolores Hydock will perform as the next teller in residence for Jonesborough’s popular Storytelling Live! series, offering a series of regular matinees Aug. 23-27.Concerts will be held at 2 p.m., daily in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall, a cozy theater in the heart of the International Storytelling Center downtown. Reservations are strongly recommended.During her week as teller in residence, Hydock will share a variety of personal stories, literary tales and a new genre she’s been exploring that she calls the extraordinary stories of ordinary people.For the last few years, the Birmingham, Ala., resident has been collecting the life stories of unassuming people in her community — old folks she’s encountered in day-to-day life who have amazing experiences to share.“If you just listen, so many of these people did daring and brave and resourceful and interesting things with their lives that many of us would never know about or bother to find out,” she says. “And then there are other people who have a whole slice of their life that is surprising and tells us of a bravery or an adventure that we might not have guessed that they had.”Some of the stories are simple, like the one about the man who had to go to the Social Security office to prove he was still alive. Others, like the one about the single mother who supported herself through the 1950s and ’60s by working in piano bars, are more complex. But the feature that all of her new stories share is the idea that we all have an extraordinary tale somewhere within us.While Hydock has been honored to share these true stories with an audience, she feels that bearing witness is an equally important task.“There’s a storytelling side of it and there’s a story listening side of it,” she explains. “I hope that what part of the community of storytelling does is create story listeners. We can all do that for each other.”While performers are the ones with the microphones, the storyteller strongly feels that listeners can do their job from the couch or the kitchen table, and not just from in front of a stage.“What is it that stories do?” she asks. “Yeah, they entertain. They inspire. But for me, one of the big things stories do is encourage. They remind you that other people have been here before and other people have figured out how to get through something before, so you can do that, too.“They say that teachers teach what they need to learn; my theory is that storytellers tell what they need to hear,” she continues. “For me, I need to hear stories about the beauty of life. I need to find those stories that remind me that we’re all doing the best we can trying to get through this life with some sense of joy and gratitude and hope. The common thing with all my stories is that in the end, it’s about the hope of the human heart and trying to find something beautiful in this life that we share.” Tickets for Hydock’s performances are $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students and children under 18. Ticket stubs will save audience members 10 percent on same-day dining at Bistro 105, The Cranberry Thistle, The Dining Room or Main Street Café.The International Storytelling Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.Storytelling Live! is sponsored by Mountain States Health Alliance and Phil Bachman Toyota Scion. Media sponsors are News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW4, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News and Citadel Broadcasting.A detailed schedule of the 2011 Storytelling Live! season is available at storytellingcenter.net.For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.

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