Storytelling event returns to Hyde Park this week

Staff Writer

Judith Heineman, a Hyde Park resident and founder of the Chicago Storytelling Guild, recently won the National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Award for leadership and service in the North Central Region. Heineman continues her efforts to keep the art of storytelling alive by hosting the 17th annual Tellabration concert this month.

The National Storytelling Network’s Regional Service and Leadership Awards are presented to individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to their local or regional storytelling community and/or have used storytelling to make a significant contribution to the larger community in which they live. Heineman said the awards, which are given in a variety of categories in each geographical region, are considered the Oscars of the storytelling community.

Heineman, who was inspired to become a storyteller after attending a storytelling festival hosted by the association in Jonesborough, Tenn. in 1997, said her main goal is to educate others about the art from of storytelling.

“People always ask, ‘What is storytelling? Someone reading to others from a book?’” Heineman said. “We don’t read from books. Storytelling is dramatic experience. It is very interactive, an alive partnership.”

She referred to the traditional African Griot as an example for the modern day storyteller.

One way Heineman has helped to keep the tradition of storytelling alive is through hosting monthly Chicago Storytelling Guild meetings where she helps storytellers work on their ideas. She also encourages them to participate in Tellabration, a worldwide event of storytelling for adults and families. This is the 17th year of Tellabration, which will take place on Nov. 24 at Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. The kid-friendly Family Concert will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the Adult Concert from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

On the 24th, nationally renowned storytellers will gather at venues all over the world and volunteer their time to introduce communities to the art of storytelling.
“Gatherings can be as intimate as people gathering around a table or as large as people gathering in an auditorium,” Heineman said.

Nationally and regionally renowned storytellers — including Mama Edie Armstrong, Paul Durica, Kathryn Gauthier and Nancy and Barry Schultz — will share their stories at the gathering at The Experimental Station.

The cost of the event is $5 and there will be sign language interpretation. For reservations, questions or to volunteer, call 773-288-7217 or email, or