Chicago Storytelling Guild presses on after shuttering of Tellabration

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

It was one year ago that Hyde Park Tellebration hosted its final show.

For last year’s special 20th anniversary celebration, Heineman reached out to storytellers who have performed at past Tellebrations as almost an alumni reunion of sorts.

Storytellers like Nestor Gomez, Jim May, Ann Shimojima, Megan Wells, Loren Niemi and famous deaf storyteller, Peter Cook, were on last year’s roster.

Every year simultaneous storytelling events are held both nationwide and worldwide in celebration of the art of storytelling for an annual event known as Tellebration.

Professional storyteller and renowned MOTH and Oracle award-winner, Judith Heineman, created Hyde Park Tellebration.

“Storytelling connects us one human to another looking into each other’s eyes,” Heineman said.

Heineman said last year would be her final year producing Tellebration. She said it had been a labor of love for the past 20 years and that moving on is bittersweet.

“I miss it terribly,” Heineman said adding that, “20 years is a nice round number to go out with a bang, not a wrinkle.”

Tellebration began in Connecticut in 1988 and had since then spread across the world. The event intends to share stories.

“When you think about celebrating our differences and respecting our culture’s stories are culture bearers they pass on tradition, and they make connections among people, which is so important today,” Heineman said.

Both regional and nationally renowned storytellers perform at Tellebration, as well as those who just want to tell their story. Stories run the gamut of personal accounts, cutting-edge narratives and classic folktales.

Heineman was the first to bring a Tellebration event to the city of Chicago in 1997 there were eight total events in the Midwest region last year, as stated in a previous article in the Herald.

Heineman is also the founding member of the Chicago Storytelling Guild, which began in January of 1998, still meets monthly at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave.

Though the Chicago Storytelling Guild did not commemorate the day of celebrating Tellebration this year they have over the last few months remained active.

For example, the Guild marched in the 4th on 53rd Parade this summer. Heineman also told stories at the Nichols Park. Members of the Guild also participate in the 57th Street Children’s Book Fair.

“Even though we’re not doing a huge storytelling and music festival [Tellebration] as we have for 20 years we intend to keep the flame of the story alive and to do smaller events throughout the year,” Heineman said.

This year, Heineman participated in a Tellebration event in New York and told an original story called, “Getting Drunk on Chocolate.” Heineman still performs and tells stories in locations locally and nationally.

In February 2018, Heineman said she intends to host an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Chicago Storytelling Guild.

“We will have some sort of celebration with a potluck dinner and stories,” Heineman said.

Details are still coming together for the event.

t.hill@hpherald.com