There are multiple generations of Nelson residents who have grown up with the storytelling of Barry Gray, the founder of the Kootenay Storytelling Festival and beloved former Waldorf School teacher, and this year he’ll be introducing his son Tobias’ work along with his own.
“Barry is probably one of the best known and most beloved of local storytellers. He was my elementary school teacher, so I’ve been listening to his stories for as long as I can remember,” said the festival’s organizer Avia Moore.
And since this year’s broad theme is the intersection of music and storytelling, Tobias is offering a performance that combines story and song, The Apprenticeship of a Politician.
“It’s a tour of the West Kootenay looking at events and places in local political history.”
Tobias won’t be the only one experimenting with music—Lucas Myers is making his debut at the event, and will be giving a meta-talk on the subject.
“Lucas is going to be specifically telling a story about how he started using music in his performances.”
Moore said this year’s lineup is a combination of well-known names and brand-new faces. One first-time solo act is L.V. Rogers grad Niko Bell, who has been living and traveling through China.
“He tells folk tales from mythology but also stories based on his experiences living overseas,” said Moore. “He talks about ending up mistakenly on a Chinese talk show, which interestingly is a story I keep hearing from ex-pats in China — apparently it’s really easy to end up on one as a westerner.”
Moore is looking forward to hearing the work of Shayna Jones, an African-Canadian living in Vancouver who will use her theatre background to bring folk tales to life.
“She came last year as an audience member and told a story at the guild meeting that impressed us so much we invited her. She’s a young storyteller, so full of energy, and she does all these amazing voices for the characters. Plus she tells the stories in a very intimate style, just like she’s talking to you, and she differentiates the characters through body movements.”
Moore said this year’s festival, which will also includes Japanese internment survivor and author Diana Cole, as well as many others, will be a “cozy, intimate and community-oriented” that focuses on one venue.
“We’re trying to keep it accessible — come for a whole day, or just an hour or two.”
And though all stories are meant for everyone, there will be some specifically kid-oriented, family-friendly performances.
“And as we’ve been doing for the past few years, we’ll be doing a school outreach program because many of our storytellers will be doing school visits through School District 8.”
All of the storytellers from the weekend will perform a short, 5 to 10-minute story on Friday evening before delivering longer versions the following day.
“That opening night will whet your appetite for the full meal which is the rest of the festival.”
All the performances will take place at Hart Hall, at 501 Carbonate St. Tickets are available from Otter Books or at the door, and cost $10 for Friday night, $20 for a Saturday day pass. Each set individually is $10, and children under 12 pay $10 for a day pass and $5 for individual performances.
For more information visit kootenaystory.org.