KSU Tellers: There's more to the story
By Lauren Highfill
(Above) From left Tellers Caroline Harrison and
Andrew Puckett were part of the ensemble that
earned rave reviews in Scotland last summer.
(Below) From left Andrew Puckett and Philip Justman
appeared in the KSU Tellers' original adaptation
of "Beowulf" in Scotland.
Sitting cross-legged onstage, a member of the KSU Tellers interacts with her group members after her storytelling performance. She receives compliments, critiques and options for evolving her creation—everything from rethinking specific movements to adapting the work for changing audiences. All of the student members of the Tellers have this opportunity for performance and critique, and fellow Tellers member Greg Garrison says that it’s “this reciprocal feedback that helps improve your work.”
A big part of the Tellers’ mission is to consistently improve and expand storytelling. “Storytelling is often pigeonholed as a medium for children,” said Kennesaw State University Assistant Professor Hannah Harvey, director of the KSU Tellers. “But it’s more than that; we do stories for mature audiences as well.” By expanding the definition of storytelling, group members “have the freedom to create what we want to create,” said Lowrey Brown. “There are no boundaries and there’s a real sense of discovery,” said Sean Halie.
The Tellers’ boundaries expanded further last year when they performed an adaptation of “Beowulf” in Scotland, which earned a four-star review from the British Theatre Guide. “Locally, we do a lot of performances at elementary, middle and high schools and storytelling festivals,” said Harvey. “We’ve moved to doing more performances in downtown Atlanta at Sketchy’s Art Pad and we recently participated in the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee.”
All these performance opportunities provide the Tellers with “experience and exposure, but more importantly we get the honor of carrying stories and keeping them alive,” said Katye Jordan. “There’s a sense of play even with serious subjects because a story is a living thing and we work on making it come alive for the storyteller and for the audience,” said Phillip Justman.
Auditions for the KSU Tellers are held each fall and are open to theatre and performance studies majors and non-majors. “Many students have had experiences with storytelling at their high schools or in their communities before auditioning, but everyone is encouraged to audition,” said Harvey. “If students are interested in joining the Tellers but need to learn the basics, they can take any of the storytelling classes we offer. Kennesaw State is a unique place to study storytelling; there are not many universities that offer undergraduate, or even graduate, courses in it.”
For more information about the KSU Tellers, contact Hannah Harvey at 678-797-2347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.