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Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival planned for Aug. 22-24 at Oklahoma History Center

by Brandy McDonnell Modified: July 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm •  Published: July 22, 2013
Patrick Ball
Patrick Ball

Arts Council of Oklahoma City Oklahoma City, OK

The Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s annual Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival is back again, but this time on a new date and at a new location. The 33 year-long tradition of entertaining audiences with the art of storytelling, however, won’t change.

The festival will take place August 22-24 at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive.

After much planning, volunteer co-chairs Lori Ford and David Thompson promise three days full of entertaining stories and workshops from world-famous tellers Patrick Ball, Judith Black, Alton Chung, and Barbara McBride-Smith.

“Everyone should go for the simple fact that a single person on a bare stage can hold an audience spellbound for hours without any visual aids – just their voice painting a vivid, compelling picture in your imagination,” said Thompson in a news release.

Bringing the Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival to the Oklahoma History Center establishes yet another collaborative relationship for the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. The festival’s new setting will bring both art and living history to the people of Oklahoma, offering unique glimpses into the past through one of humanity’s oldest art forms.

“Storytelling is an art form that easily creates connections and communities of people by offering life lessons or shared experiences. No matter whether the story covers common or uncommon ground, the listener can always relate to it because the art is in the telling,” said Ford in the release.

With four renowned tellers of different backgrounds, audiences are sure to relate to their colorful, humorous and inspirational stories.

Featured storyteller, Patrick Ball, is one of the premier Celtic harp players in the world and a captivating spoken word artist. Touring extensively through North America, Ball presents audiences with the history of lyrical and turbulent Ireland through music and voice. The Washington Post reviewed his live performance of Irish oral tradition as “a haunting spell that resonates with lyricism and charm.”

Judith Black, a professional storyteller with an international following, performs original historic stories that offer non-traditional vantage points on people, places and events that offer a broader understanding of our national past. Her stories have been commissioned by organizations such as The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, National Public Radio, Salem Theater Company, and the U.S. Department of Forestry. Her work has been featured 10 times at the National Storytelling Festival and has served three times as Teller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center. She has performed for international schools, conducted workshops for adults, promoted story slams, and presented for the ESLA conference in France.

Texas-born and Tulsa-residing historian, preacher and storyteller, Barbara McBride-Smith, performs stories that transport audiences from the ancient world of the Greek gods to the post-modern experiences of the Baby Boomer generation. Barbara McBride-Smith serves up sweet truth with a side of southern grit and has been featured on National Public Radio and at the International Storytelling Festival in Washington, D.C. In addition to her tale-spinning, she has worked as a school librarian for more than 40 years and a seminary professor for more than 20 years.

Professional storyteller, Alton Chung grew up with the stories, superstitions, and magic of the Hawaiian Islands. This combined with his Japanese and Korean roots, presents audiences with a unique blend of cultural tales and personal stories with a deep sense of reverence and authenticity. Chung’s performances include historical stories of the Japanese-Americans during World War II, ancient folk tales, Hawaiian legends, and ghost stories. In 2005, he was awarded the first J.J. Reneaux Emerging Artist Award by the National Storytelling Network.

See the full festival schedule after the break.

Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival Performance Schedule

There are three evening performances that will feature all four tellers. These performances are intended for adults. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at, at the event or by calling 270-4848.Thursday and Friday evening performances are located at the Oklahoma History Center in the Devon Great Hall. Saturday evening performance located at Myriad Botanical Gardens Great Lawn stage.

8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22 – Barbara McBride-Smith, Alton Chung, Judith Black, and, the evening’s featured teller, Patrick Ball

8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23 – Patrick Ball, Barbara McBride-Smith, Alton Chung, and, the evening’s featured teller, Judith Black

8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 – Alton Chung, Judith Black, Patrick Ball, and, the evening’s featured teller, Barbara McBride-Smith.

There will also be a family matinee that will feature Barbara McBride-Smith and Alton Chung. This performance is family friendly and will be held at the Oklahoma History Center.


“Art of Storytelling” workshops are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, August 23 and 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, August 24. Attendees will be given instruction in storytelling techniques from professional tellers. Workshop registration can be completed online at A weekend pass that includes two days of workshops is $45. A one-day pass is $25. All workshops take place at the Oklahoma History Center.

Friday Workshops

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Workshop: “Taking the Next Step: Telling Stories as a Professional” by Patrick Ball

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Workshop: “It’s My Story & I’m Sticking to It: Crafting Personal Narratives” by Barbara McBride-Smith

2:45p.m. – 4 p.m. – Workshop: “Ghost Stories and other Scary Stuff” by Alton Chung

4:30p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Workshop: “Character Based Storytelling from the Museum Perspective: Tales of the Cattle Drive, the Pioneer Woman, and the Dustbowl” – Oklahoma History Center Staff

Saturday Workshops

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Workshop: “Finding Your Own Voice” featuringPatrick Ball, Judith Black, Alton Chung, and Barbara McBride-Smith and their take on the story: Rumpelstiltskin

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Workshop “From Heart to Heart” – Judith Black

Tickets for the performances and workshops begin at $10 ($3 for a child) and may be purchased online at or by calling 270-4848.

The Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival, produced by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, is presented by Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy Corporation, with additional support from Allied Arts, Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. For performance or workshop information as well as a complete festival schedule, visit or call 270-4848.


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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