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Local storytelling group meets monthly to share tales of life, love, loss

January 02, 2013|By CHRIS COPLEY | chrisc@herald-mail.com
  • Candace DeVore tells Bombs Away, a story about a memory of her dad, at a Christian Storytelling Cafe get-together.
Courtesy of Photography by Dale

According to storyteller Faith Crumbly, her latest project is only a year old, and already it has a happy ending.

Or at least a happy beginning.

“We’ve been going for a year,” Crumbly said. “And people would get to meetings before I did. I was surprised at the interest.”

Crumbly, a retired writer and editor with The Review & Herald Publishing Co. in Hagerstown, organized the Christian Storytelling Cafe a year ago. The group meets at a variety of venues, religious and secular, and welcomes the public.

Tonight, the group will meet at Turtles restaurant in Hagerstown. On Sunday, the group will meet at Port City Java in Hagerstown. Visitors are welcome.

Originally, Crumbly conceived of the group as a way to share Bible stories and improve Bible knowledge among members. But the group’s focus is on storytelling of all sorts.

“I had gone to a woman’s retreat, and at the retreat, a speaker said 80 percent of Americans who claim to be Christians don’t know basic Bible stories. I said, ‘Oh my goodness,’” she said. “My specialty is Bible stories. But anyone can (come and) tell a good, clean story for an adult audience.”

Crumbly welcomes adults and teens to tell stories — family stories, funny stories, poignant stories, stories with lessons, stories that entertain.

“Anyone can come. People from all walks of life,” she said. “We just ask them to follow the guidelines. We want good, clean stories. We don’t want barroom tales. No bedroom shenanigans. We want things that a family can come to.

“(Our) people use storytelling to have fun, to tell about their life experience, and they use it to sort out their sorrows.”

She prefers stories that are about a person’s own life. But sometimes, she said, stories are so amazing she has a hard time telling if it’s factual or fictional.

“We’re not a Liars’ Club. We do try to talk about life experience and true-to-life stories,” she said. “We have some people who’ve said they want to learn to tell the story of the death of a child or another loved one. Or (to tell about) a hard rock they’ve been on and overcome. They want to learn to tell the story.”

A lot of families have a member who is a great storyteller, Crumbly said. Sometimes, it’s a member of the older generation. Sometimes it’s a young person. They can they tell stories about a family’s history or members and make them come alive.

Most stories at monthly meetings of the storytelling cafe are limited to three to five minutes. For special events, such as the occasional soirees hosted by the group, stories as long as 15 minutes are permitted.

Changes are coming to the group this year, Crumbly said. For one thing, the group will probably formalize its membership, elect officers and start charging dues. Also, monthly meetings of the Christian Storytelling Cafe will include teaching time to improve members’ storytelling skills.

“I love to teach,” she said. “We will have regular teaching for this year. The last 45 minutes of meetings will be for dues-paying people — a story-telling class at the end of every meeting starting in February.”

Crumbly said she plans to teach about different aspects of good storytelling — how to develop a strong character; how to develop a central conflict for the character to deal with; how to tell a story in a natural, conversational style.

The key to storytelling, she said, is to engage the audience.

“You are appealing to the audience to have a response. Not like with TV,” she said. “With storytelling, you want to interact with the audience.”



If you go ...       

WHAT: Christian storytelling cafe

WHEN: 6:30 to 8 p.m. today

WHERE: Turtles, 176 N. Burhans Blvd., Hagerstown

COST: Free

CONTACT: Email ustorytellers@gmail.com



If you go ...       

WHAT: Christian storytelling cafe

WHEN: 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6

WHERE: Port City Java, in the courtyard at Longmeadow Shopping Center, at the intersection of Potomac and Northern avenues, Hagerstown

COST: Free

CONTACT: Email ustorytellers@gmail.com





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