Nationally acclaimed storytellers coming to Troy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2007

pecial to The Advocate

The South has long been known for its great raconteurs who pass down the wonderful lore of its people, places and times.

The Brundidge Historical Society and Troy Arts Council want to begin a storytelling tradition in the area. The two groups are joining forces to bring five acclaimed storytellers to Troy in January.

The First Annual Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival is slated for Saturday, January 13, 2007 at the Trojan Center Theater, Troy University.

Donald Davis, known as the &#8220dean of storytelling,” will headline the event. Joining him on stage will be Andy Offutt Irwin, B.J. Abraham, Brent Holmes and Pike County's own celebrity, Shelia Fayson Jackson.

Storytelling concerts will be at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., with each set featuring all performers.

Davis is considered one of the most sought-after storytellers in the country. Wilma Dykeman of The New York Times wrote of Davis: &#8220I could have listened all morning to Donald Davis. His stories often leave listeners limp with laughter at the same time they struggle with a lump in their throat.”

Davis, who regularly performs at such renowned storytelling events as the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., shares stories steeped in the oral tradition of his upbringing in the Appalachian South.

Andy Offutt Irwin is described as &#8220one vibrantly odd bird, with feathers that tease, tickle and tug at the heart and a whopper of a personality that barely fits in most rooms.”

Offutt is well known for his stories featuring Aunt Marguerite who became a medical doctor at age 80.

B.J. Abraham is one person, many faces, and many stories. She grew up Lebanese in the Mississippi and has incorporated into her repertoire some of the voices and dialects she heard growing up. She has displayed her storytelling abilities throughout the Southeast and in Canada, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Syria.

Brent Holmes is a musician and spinner of &#8220Redneck Tales.”

His stories from &#8220The Road Less Graveled” are said to offer &#8220side-splitting into the world off the beaten path,” from outhouses to hog wallows and pink flamingoes in the front yard.

Shelia Fayson Jackson has a voice &#8220that will give you goose bumps.”

She has performed for President George Bush, for several governors and a host of other VIPs. Jackson has been invited to perform at the U.S. Open in New York and has performed in the guise of Ma Rainey at various venues, including the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge.

Jackson sings into and out of stories that will &#8220tickle your funny bone and warm your heart.”

Pre-show music will be by the WPA Scratch Band and the Lighthouse String Ensemble.

Special opportunities will be offered to storytelling audiences through the Adams Center, home of the Trojan Center Theater.

Barnes and Nobles Bookstore is located in the Trojan Center and will offer a 10 percent discount on Jan. 13 to those with storytelling tickets.

The Food Court will be open at Trojan Center so lunch will be available without leaving the center.

Stewart Dining Hall is a short walk from the Trojan Center Theater and offers a lunch buffett featuring a salad and fruit bar, pizza, fries, hamburgers, sandwich bar, hot food bar and desserts.

Tickets are $10 per set or $25 for all three sets (each will feature a different performance by the artists). Group rates are available.

Tickets are available by calling 334-735-3125 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. MTWFS or by visiting Rue's Antique Mall in Brundidge.