October 07, 2009

National Storytelling Festival Wrap Up, Part 1: Twitter

Well, I wasn't there this year, at the 37th Annual National Storytelling Festival, held each year in Jonesborough, Tennessee, the first weekend in October.

However, I knew from last year, that it was possible to follow the weekend vicariously, through Twitter. This year, I tuned into the tweets of @Storyconnect (the official twitter account of the International Storytelling Center that hosts the event), and various attendees, and a performer or two, including Ellouise Schoettler, a wonderful storyteller out of Maryland that I know from several worlds (the storytelling circuit, the blogging world, and Fringe Festivals), who was making her debut at the Festival this year.

And while the 140 character limit of Twitter can't help but fail to express the feeling of a three-day storytelling lovefest, there were some nice glimpses over the weekend of the festival's spirit:

@BuckPCreacy Ah I am here. . . Tell me some story 5:11 PM Oct 1st

@MargaretMeyers: Nat'l Story Night has a nature all its own. Stories so touching, audience in tune. 9:28 PM Oct 1st

@Storyconnect: A beautiful morning in J-borough. Watching families & excited festival-goers pin on their calico "tickets." Tellers, your audience awaits! 6:30 AM Oct 2nd

@Djeliba: I got up early to do my ritual of visiting the stage. There are people seated in the audience 2 hours before performances begin! Wow! 7:31 AM Oct 2nd

@iBelin: "There are no fairy godmothers in my story 'cause women stand on their own two feet where I come from." Gay Ducey #Storytelling 11:35AM Oct 2nd

@Storyconnect: Kathryn Windham, on being Southern: "We are not embarrassed by our peculiarities. We chart 'em out & tell stories about them!" 12:26 PM Oct 2nd

@LeeRosen: National Storytelling Festival totally doesn't get social media. Photos, videos, and device use prohibited. Fail. 12:51 PM Oct 2nd

@DavidJoeMiller: //// If you're in Jonesborough right now, stay out of Boo Alley after night fall. Legend has it that ....................... 4:26 PM Oct 2nd

@Djeliba: Just finished my performance (1,200) people in the audience. What an amazing experience! 5:12PM Oct 2nd

@Ellouisestory: Please excuse me. I am still glowing from my first time on a Jonesborough stage at Exchange Place. #storytelling 9:30 PM Oct 2nd

@MargaretMeyers: Watching Eric Wolf around town at #storytelling festival doing interviews. Waiting to hear what he does with them. 9:31 PM Oct 2nd

@LeeRosen: Awake and getting ready for big day of stories. Jonesborough will be packed today. 4:21 AM Oct 3rd

@VeronicaMcG: Crammed like a sardine in a tent w/ 1000 other people at the Natl Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tn., & loving every min of it. 6:53 AM Oct 3rd

@focusonthecloud: I've travelled the south looking for ghost stories & have only found 2 evil ghosts. Thats a lot better than the humans I've met. - Kathryn 8:44 AM Oct 3rd

@focusonthecloud: So there we were a catholic priest, a baptist pastor and a methodist minister flying thru the air with no punchline in sight. - Bill Lepp 1:32 PM Oct 3rd

@DianaBaldwin: At the National Storytelling Festival- the first real social media. Amazing, captivating stories, and absolutely zero backnoise. 3:54PM Oct 3rd

@Storyconnect: Irish scary stories never fail to terrify-- I am now afraid of cairns, bath water, pokers, & cake. You might not want to know why. 6:13 PM Oct 3rd

@Consultdoc: Had a great time at the Intl Storytelling Festival. Fun to get a little old school and laugh out loud. Highly reccommend it. 7:03 PM Oct 3rd

@DianaBaldwin: @storylaura just finished the ghost stories segment. Did you go? Amazing & under the perfect moon... 7:14 PM Oct 3rd

@Ellouisestory: listening to the train passing through early in the morning. Its the music of storytelling here in Jonesboro. 5:02 AM Oct 4th

@Storyconnect: A tent full of of thousands just sang three songs in four-part harmony. That's it's own kind of magic! 7:23 AM Oct 4th

@Storyconnect: Bil Lepp vs. mountain lion. Any takers on the bet? 12:17 PM Oct 4th

@SlashColeman: is back from Jonesborough....ahhhhh. 4:40 AM Oct 5th

Some of the Twitter users even managed a "tweetup" on Saturday morning (photo here)

Tweeter @LeeRosen's frustration with the Festival's policy on electronic devices is understandable, but that didn't stop several tweeters from snapping photos with their cell phones (I found pics of Sheila Kay Adams, Donald Davis, and Kathryn Windham via Twitter... well, most of the pic is row upon row of audience in folding chairs while at the far side of the tent was a tiny human being. If you say that little speck is Sheila, I'll believe you).

Meanwhile, over at @focusonthecloud, Matt Harris was actually twittering quotes from storytellers in near real-time. (Maybe Festival staff and tent volunteers aren't on the lookout for active Blackberries?) Not a substitute for hearing the whole story, but Matt was capturing some nice turns of phrase from these orators. And, if, like me, you've heard some of these tellers before, the tweets evoke the sound of their voices. So I appreciate what Matt was doing.

If I had been there? I would have found a way to post, but probably not during the performances. As much as I like to share the experience online, when it comes to performances, I'm there to experience the storytelling trance. The tweets can come later.


About Sean Buvala said...

Thanks, Tim, for posting this recap. Great stuff.

"@LeeRosen: National Storytelling Festival totally doesn't get social media. Photos, videos, and device use prohibited. Fail. 12:51 PM Oct 2nd"

But we already knew that. After all, they're celebrating the ancient art of storytelling in a down home setting. Buy the DVD and Photo journal to take home the memories.




Thanks for this run-down Tim.Nice to read it as a compilation. As it turned out for me - it was hard to Tweet and keep focused on the Festival - stories and reunioning - I was never very good at rubbing my head and my stomach at the same time - and found myself feeling the same way balancing all the possibilities with Social Media -

Brother Wolf said...


The National Festival Turned down my press credentials - "Are you the NY Times?" But they let me sell my CD's (115 sold) of episodes in the store so I can't complain. I also got that hot little interview with Jimmy Neal Smith I have wanted for two years. I probably would have gotten more interviews with support from the festival. 4 is enough and 200 postcards handed out - two festivals have shown interest in giving me full access - more on that later. So I think my 2010 year is looking pretty booked. Between those and the showcases I got planned.

NSF is an amazing treat next year I plan on going back and not working so much actually watching some storytelling - best on the earth. The NSN workshops are a real oppurtunity and why more tellers don't go to the producer and organizers workshop to meet festival organizers I just don't know.

Eric Wolf

PS: The tweet up was wild - never been to one and me with no phone.

Granny Sue said...

I don't twitter, but I enjoyed those some of those posted on Facebook, although in general I find them too shortand lacking substance. But that's me.

And like LeeRosen, I thought the NSF missed a great opportunity for thousands of people to get a little taste of the festival. Bloggers like me use lots of photos, some use video and sound too. The media shares the excitement of the moment. How exactly is the ISC planning to connect with the very connected? Don't think they've considered the free ads they'd be getting for free.