TSA Virtual Conference 2020 Review

October 9-11, 2020
Storytelling in the Time of Corona

A virtual and online conference on the ZOOM platform


Conference Afterglow

We had 15 online events over three days this last weekend with everyone attending getting a front-row seat! We had from storytellers to attendees from all over the United States and all over the world. Storytellers who made us laugh, weep, and shout with joy with their words, sounds, expression, and emotions in this time of corona. We came together united online during these challenging times and connected over stories.

We want to say thank you to our audience, our adult storytellers, our child storytellers and their parents, our emcees, our moderators, our workshop presenters, our ASL interpreters, our many volunteers, our Zoom technical team, our sponsors: the City of Denton, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the TSA Board and Administrative Director, TSA members, other storytelling organizations and groups, other arts groups, and the press who all supported us with our conference.

Thank you to our conference committee: David Claunch, Rebba Raine Teller, Elizabeth Ellis, Dalton Gregory, Oba-William King, Brooks Myers, Toni Simmons, Peggy Helmick-Richardson, Janet Bickel-Burton, and MaryAnn Blue for their artistic creation and organization of our virtual conference: Storytelling in the Time of Corona. We value their tireless hours of work, effort, time, and planning to create and organize this conference.

Thank you to the youth committee chair and youth mentor: Oba-William King and the youth committee and youth mentors: Toni Simmons, MaryAnn Blue, Viveca Deanes, Vivian Rutherford, and Sue Kuentz, We are so grateful for their wonderful dedication and effort to our storytelling future in our children’s storytellers from all over the country who will keep storytelling alive for many years to come.

Thank you to the director of our Zoom technology: Brooks Myers and his every ready technical support team, hosts, and co-hosts for the conference: Shayne Larango, Kim Lehman, Dean Keith, Michael Guinn, Janet Bickel-Burton, Sue Kuentz, Elizabeth Ellis, David Brock, and Helen Dawson who took great care of all of us on the technical side to make sure that everyone got to see and enjoy the conference smoothly.

And of course, our heartfelt thanks to all of you for supporting the Tejas Storytelling Association with our first-ever virtual conference. We can not do it without you all!

Here are some of the storytellers, emcees, and workshop presenters for the conference:

We look forward to seeing you all at our next virtual and online ZOOM event: 36th Annual Texas Storytelling Festival – The Magic, Mystery, and Miracle of Storytelling on March 11-14, 2021.




ASL Interpreters for conference: Joel Hill and Libby Tipton

Friday, October 9, 2020

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm – Workshop

Start with the Basics: Folktales 101
Presenter: Sally Goodroe
Moderator: Mark Goldman

Folktales are tried-and-true stories that have survived the test of time and so are perfect for all tellers, from beginners on. In this workshop, we will learn where to look for good folktales to tell, discuss how to learn their basic structure, and practice adding images and interpretation to create a tale for telling that will serve you for many years to come.
Sally Bates Goodroe has told stories for over 30 years in schools, libraries,  festivals. Sally’s favorite stories are world folktales, especially interactive stories , and stories from the British Isles. She has a master’s degree in folklore from the University of Edinburgh, and works as a librarian in Houston.

4:30 pm – 5:15 pm – Children’s Workshop

Shape Shifting for Muggles (elementary to teen audience)
Presenter: Darci Tucker
Moderator: Jacqui Rash

Darci is a metamorphmague (one who can change shape without polyjuice potion). Watch her transform and learn how you can portray your favorite character from history or fiction. No wands required.
Darci portrays more than 20 people. She performs all over the country. Kids are her favorite audience.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Zoom Rooms

Open for socialization and dinner break
Zoom Moderator: Elizabeth Ellis

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Evening Concert

Emcee: Sheila Starks Phillips

Storyteller: Tom McDermott
Tom McDermott is a seasoned, salted, and slightly solemn teller of tales, a crafter of ukulele wonders, and a Zen-Methodist pastor who is generally up to no good (for all the right reasons). For nearly 25 years he toured the US, Canada, and Ireland masquerading as a semi-talented musician and storyteller.

Storyteller: Darci Tucker
A shape-shifter who portrays more than 20 women from American history, also tells folktales, fairytales and ghost stories. She performs in schools all over the country and plans her Oklahoma trip each year to coincide with the Texas Festival, where she has been involved since 2011.

Storyteller: MaryAnn Blue
Mary Ann Blue is a bilingual storyteller who has been an active TSA member since it’s beginning. Mary Ann has served on the TSA Board, served as a Festival Director and Festival Artistic Director, and is a recipient of TSA’s John Henry Faulk Award. She has been a featured teller at the Texas Storytelling Festival on several occasions and featured storyteller a number of times at the George West Storyfest. Mary Ann is a retired Spanish teacher and has taught storytelling to many Texas children.

Featured Storyteller: Paul Normandin
Paul is a large man with a big mouth who loves to tell stories to anyone who can’t outrun him. Paul learned to tell stories from the loving feedback of children while teaching Sunday school. Paul remains humbled to play on any stage with his supportive and loving friends.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

1:00 – 2:00 pm
Children’s Concert

Storytellers: Nichole Clark, Keren Lee, Rebekah Garcia, Jeremiah Tilley, Lily Kelly, Sohan Bhakta, Divvya Beeram, Gloria Kunnapilly

2:15 pm – 3:00 pm
Children’s Workshop

The Art of Storytelling for Young Tellers (Suitable for elementary to teens)
Presenter: Vivian Rutherford
Moderator: Jacqui Rash

Vivan RutherfordWhether you are a 1st-time teller or have told stories for a while, this workshop is for you!
Get your Nuts & Bolts of storytelling to take to your art to the next level!
Vivian, native Houstonian and mother of three, is a natural-born yard spinner. She defies the joyless librarian bookworm stereotype. She is a storyteller who does not “hush” children – she positively incites and inspires kids about reading through vivid tales and commands attention and affection from rapt listeners of her stories.

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm – Adult Workshop

Music and Creativity to Enrich Storytelling
Presenter Dr. Trudy Hanson
Moderator: Shayne Larango

This interactive workshop provides a variety of activities that can be used in a classroom setting to encourage the use of sound and rhythm in storytelling. Participants will participate in activities that teach basic musical concepts (pitch, volume, rhythm, and beat), as well as adding musical cues to a simple story.
Trudy L. Hanson serves as Chair of the Department of Communication at West Texas A&M University. She earned her doctorate at Texas Tech University. She has served as President of the Texas Speech Communication Association, the Southern States Communication Association, as well as editor of the Texas Speech Communication Journal. At WTAMU, she directs the annual storytelling festival.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Zoom Rooms

Open for socialization and dinner break
Zoom Moderator: Elizabeth Ellis

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Evening Concert

Emcee: Kathy Culmer

Featured Storyteller: Shonaleigh Cumbers
Shonaleigh is a drut’syla (storyteller) from the Yiddish oral tradition.  She has worked as a storyteller within the secular world for the past 22 years across the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, United States , and New Zealand.  She was UK Deputy National Storytelling Laureate 2010-12.  She performs from the Barbican to Burngreave Village Hall, from the Albert Hall to Albert Park, Unstone, international festivals in the US, New Zeal, and , and Europe, and all points in between. Her commissioned pieces include “The Tower Of Bagel,” the first commission from Festival at the Edge in 1998, , and now available as a CD; “Fool of the Warsaw Ghetto;” “The Ruby Tree;” “The Golem;” “The Golden Labyrinth;” and other work. She has completed commissions for the British Library, the British Museum, and Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival, , and is a regular contributor to BBC arts programs. 

Storyteller: Bernadette Nason
Award-winning storyteller, actress, author, and TCA touring artist, Bernadette hails from England but performs everywhere. Acclaimed for her spirited multicultural folktales and anecdotes about her travels, Nason’s memoir, Tea in Tripoli, regarding her dangerous year in Libya, was recently published, and the sequel, Dinner in Dubai, is forthcoming.

Storyteller: Kanute Rarey
Kanute has a life-long love of story and oral tradition. His family would say he has always been a storyteller. Kanute says his dad could make life sound like a tall tale just sitting around the dinner table. He has told stories from courthouse steps in Jonesborough to NPR Story Slams in Asheville and places in between in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Since its beginning in 2015, he helps with the annual Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival, is a founder of Mountain Area Storytellers, and produces a monthly Open Mic Night for storytellers, writers, poets and singer-songwriters in his hometown in western North Carolina.

Storyteller: J. B. Keith
J.B. is a founding member of the Tejas Storytelling Association and the Dallas Storytelling Guild. He is a past president of TSA and a John Henry Faulk awardee. J.B. describes his original stories as the divergent wandering of an undisciplined mind on the brink of chaos.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Sacred Tales Concert

Emcee: Peggy Helmick-Richardson

Storyteller: Jay Stailey
First featured in 1990, Jay has returned to Denton as a teller, emcee, workshop presenter, artistic director, volunteer, and even labyrinth facilitator. It’s the Texas Storytelling Festival that provided the impetus and inspiration for Jay Stailey: the author, recording artist, professor, and producer. Thanks for 35 years of storytelling joy.

Storyteller: Valerie Kimble
Valerie Kimble has told stories in schools, libraries, churches, treatment centers, daycare centers, Head Starts, and performing art centers to audiences of all ages tor over 30 years. As part of a storytelling delegation to Egypt, Valerie told stories at the Library of Alexandria. Valerie is a long-time member of the Territory Tellers of Oklahoma, the Tejas Storytelling Association, and the National Storytelling Network.

Storyteller: David Claunch
David spent 21 years as a construction project engineer. Then his right brain demanded equal time! Suddenly, a clown, balloon artist, and storyteller appeared! He traveled and performed for 12 years. Now he teaches math and science at a recovery high school in Houston, and he tells stories, of course.

Storyteller: Jiaan Powers
Jiaan brings her love, expertise, and passion for storytelling to each of her performances. She tells multi-cultural folktales, literary tales, and ghost stories often weaving them together with snippets from down-home. Audience members experience the “intimacy of storying” as they participate in Jiaan’s workshops or listen to her tell.

Storyteller: David Titus
Dave has told stories and taught over 2 million children and adults. Last year he was working with adult recovering addicts in Ireland for three weeks, and a week in Spain, Italy, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Poland each using string stories and activities. He also worked with many children.

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Children’s Concert

Storytellers: Arya Ajith, Amil Shabazz, Zion Estelle and Zi Cura Estelle, Phoebe Beckellhymer, Saniyah McGrew, David Brock, Saaya Mehta and Max Elmendor, Arath Herrera, Isabella Daich

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Adults Tell to Kids Concert

Storyteller: Oba William King
Oba is a small town storyteller-sharing the art of storytelling as though it were a sacred gift. A recent presenter at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, TN, and The Kennedy Center. Oba is a Traditional Folk Arts Fellowship recipient from the Illinois Arts Council and an award-winning presenter from the BSA in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His presentations engaging the audience in the magical world of rhythm and rhyme as he enhances his storytelling with the drum beats of his African Drum.

Storyteller: Sue Kuentz
Thank goodness storytelling found Sue early in her career because she has a lot to say! Her enthusiastic and interactive storytelling of all genres was nurtured every year at the Texas Storytelling Festivals and Conferences. She’s the 2016 recipient of Tejas Storytelling Association’s Colson-Herndon Storytelling in Education Award.

Storyteller: Decee Cornish
This teller and oral historian provides programs for students of all ages: Black History, Texas History, the Civil War, tall tales, legends and myths from around the globe. He is a four-time winner in Texas State Liar’s Contest, 2015 NSN Story Slam National Champion, and Amon Carter Museum Outstanding Performer for presentations as the Negro Seminole Indian Scout “Gator Bill”.

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Adult Workshop

Storytelling in the Dual Language Classroom
Presenter : Sandra Aguirre-Magana
Moderator: David Claunch

Learn how to integrate storytelling into your language arts curriculum to motivate your dual-language students to communicate in their second target language. Interactive strategies that stimulate second language acquisition skills in English and Spanish will be presented.
Sandra is a bilingual teacher and author from Chicago who now calls the Sun City of El Paso home. She has performed storytelling for students, friends, and family for many years. She believes her storytelling is inspired by family, especially her grandmothers who were the first storytellers she ever heard.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Zoom Rooms

Open for socialization and dinner break
Zoom Moderator: Elizabeth Ellis

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Evening Concert

Emcee: David Claunch

Featured Storyteller: Clare Murphy
Being a raconteur, performer, and creator, Clare Murphy creates bespoke solo performances, cabaret (ala carte) storytelling events, and commissioned pieces. Since 2006, she has told stories around the world on many stages including The Globe, The National, The Barbican, the SoHo Theatres in London, and National Storytelling Festival in 2016 as well as at festivals, art centers, universities, public, and private events, conferences, and schools. She has collaborated with The Royal Shakespeare Company, Central Saint Martin’s University, National Museums of Irel, and, and the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado. Also, Clare is a writer, a consultant, and a teacher of storytelling, and a trainer for corporations, and charities that look to improve their storytelling, and communication skills. In 2017, the Texas Storytelling Festival is excited to present this international storytelling phenomenon. 

Storyteller: Genie Hammel
Accompanied by her puppets and autoharp, “The Magic Genie” brings the delight and magic of stories to audiences of all ages. As a children’s librarian for twenty years, Genie had the ideal audience and plenty of resources to hone her energetic and interactive style of storytelling. She loves to tell folktales, stories that make you laugh, and stories that find a resting place in the hearts of her audience. Genie has told stories at many venues, including the Texas Storytelling Festival, the Dallas Museum of Art, various public and school libraries, The Blackland Prairie Festival, and the TX Tales Festival. Her weekly stories at the Plano Interurban Museum invite the children to “climb aboard” the story train!

Storyteller: Toni Simmons
Toni Simmons is an award-winning, dynamic storyteller and author who brings new life to her stories with songs, rhythms, chants, and audience participation. She has captivated audiences at many festivals including the National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place, the National Black Storytelling Festival, and Texas Storytelling Festival. Internationally, she has performed in schools in South Africa, Germany, and Mexico. Toni is listed on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist roster and was designated as an American Masterpiece by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her interactive sessions also use creative drama with a variety of age-appropriate folklore. The audience is taken on an imaginary story trip to different continents all the while helping to tell the stories.

Storyteller: Sheila Starks Phillips
The 2005 recipient of the John Henry Faulk Award, Sheila has twice been a Teller in Residence at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN. Most recently Sheila was featured for the second time at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Lehi, Utah. She and Millie Kitty live in Sugar Land.