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Teller’s newest tales span four generations

Staff Report • Jun 18, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Award-winning performer Doug Lipman will bring a new slew of stories and songs to his upcoming storytelling residency in downtown Jonesborough.The International Storytelling Center’s Teller-in-Residence series hosts storytelling’s best and brightest stars through early fall. Lipman, who will perform June 18-22, is the latest in a lineup that will feature popular performers like Carmen Deedy, David Holt and Donald Davis.“The exciting thing for me about this residency is that I’m coming with all new stories,” says Lipman, who has focused on a series about his parents. Spanning four generations of Lipmans, the stories begin around 1910 and follow through to the present day.While fairy tales and other traditional stories usually have a clear-cut beginning and end, figuring out where a story stops and starts can be a real challenge in developing true stories for the stage, Lipman says.“It’s never that the story starts here and stops here,” he explains. “You draw from life, and life keeps going. Does the story begin with me? Does it begin with my parents? They influenced me, and they were influenced by others. So with personal stories and with historical stories, a big issue is to figure out where it begins and ends.”While true tales have been a staple in his repertoire for some time, family stories have only recently taken center stage in Lipman’s set lists. He’s developed some of the tales over decades of studying family history, formally and informally, probing the past with the heart of a historian.He traces many of his finely honed storytelling skills as a storyteller back to his unusual childhood. His father was Jewish and his mother was a Protestant — an atypical pairing at the time.“In 1940, for a Jew and a Christian to marry each other was a big deal,” he says. “There have been huge advantages to that. It’s part of what made me a storyteller. It made me somebody who can translate from one sort of cultural perspective to another, because I had to do that at home.”As an adult, he became a real student of his family’s past, poring over old documents and conducting long interviews with both his parents.“Twenty or 30 years ago, I started getting interested in personal stories,” he says. “I went through papers and letters. My dad wrote home while he was in World War II, every day for over 18 months. I’ve read them all. Also during that period I interviewed my parents a lot — hours and hours where I asked them loads of questions. And I’ve got a lot more questions that I wish I could have asked.”During his week-long residency in Jonesborough, Lipman will share stories and songs on guitar and flute in daily matinees in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall, an intimate theater in downtown Jonesborough. All performances begin at 2 p.m.Tickets are $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students, and children under 18. (Season passes that offer savings of nearly 50 percent are also available while supplies last.) Ticket holders will save 10 percent on same-day dining at The Olde Courthouse Diner, The Dining Room, Jonesborough General Store and Eatery, or Main Street Café.Advance reservations are strongly recommended.Information about all TIR performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2013, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net.The International Storytelling Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.Storytelling Live! is sponsored in part by Eastman Credit Union. Media sponsors are News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune and Cumulus Media.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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