It would be easy to think that the only storytellers left are the friendly librarians providing Saturday Morning Story Time to squadrons of enthralled children. That turns out not to be the case.
Storytelling, almost in the same sense as it was used for centuries, is alive and well. While there is more emphasis on entertainment, and perhaps less emphasis on sly sedition, Storytelling and Storytellers are alive and well.
There is a triving trade in professional Storytellers. The National Storytelling Network is a home and clearinghouse for people who tell stories for a living, and for the much larger number of Tellers who do this for pleasure. There is the International Storytelling Center, for Tellers from around the world.
They have a National Storytelling Conference. This is where Tellers go to hone their craft. There's also an National Storytelling Festival, held annually in Jonesborough, Tennessee. (This is a bit like the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, held annnually in Elko in January or February, but much, MUCH larger!)
There are smaller storytelling festivals all over, and all are worth attending. Tellers are charismatic folk! One of the festivals for children is held right here in Las Vegas. It's the Bristlecone Pine Storytelling Festival, and is oriented to school age Tellers.
Las Vegas is home to at least three world-class Tellers: Shanta Nurullah (see a video of her Telling one of her stories), Lajadjie Sebela, and James Bowen and the Bookin' Bikers. One of the semi-local Tellers is Kendall Haven. He lives in California, but visits Las Vegas often, and both performs and gives amazing workshops in writing and Storytelling. He also writes amazing books!
I haven't seen Shanta or Lajadjie Sebela recently. Shanta had me in tears a few years ago at a Bristlecone Pine Storytelling Festival, and I've attended several workshops by both of these amazing ladies.
James Bowen works for the local school district, and is one of the regional coordinator for the Bristlecone Pine Storytelling Festival.
Perhaps we can gather the local Tellers together for a Tellebration. Perhaps in 2009?