Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Who doesn’t enjoy a good story?

Unlike last year’s Druid City Arts Festival, this year’s doesn’t revolve solely around musicians and visual artists. For the first time, storytellers will have their own tent at the festival as well as their own time slots on the main stage.

The Creative Campus interns have secured a long list of experienced storytellers for this year’s festival, including professional storyteller Kim Weitkamp and founding member of the Alabama Storytelling Association Bruce Walker.

Whitney Davidson, a senior majoring in advertising and a Creative Campus intern, said Weitkamp is one of about 30 storytellers on the national circuit right now, and she’ll be telling ghost stories at the festival.

Walker, who has heard Weitkamp perform before, said, “Kim’s a sweetheart. She’s very good and very articulate.”

Walker will most likely perform stories about his family.

“I have 105 first cousins on the Walker side, so I have a lot of ammunition,” he said. “I come from a family of moonshiners, travelling preachers, professional baseball players… I really like to tell a set of stories about Walker’s Bend in St. Clair County. They’re coming-of-age stories set in the 1950s and 60s.”

Every time Walker tells his stories, he never reads or memorizes them.

“What I do is an emerging art form that started on the front porches of grandma and grandpa,” he said. “You don’t read. You tell. Stories are like buckets that carry something with them. Everyone will hear the same story and get different meanings. I’ve had people laugh and cry after hearing the same story. When you get it right, you make a connection with the audience that is visceral.”

Walker also said he sees storytelling as a means of travel.

“Hardly anybody lives where they were born anymore, though there was a time and place [when they did],” he said. “If you cannot live there literally, you can travel back with me.”

Like Walker, many of the storytellers performing at DCAF this year have performed in Tuscaloosa before at Creative Campus’s Black Warrior Storytelling Festival.

Daniel C. Potts, neurologist and associate clinical professor for the Alabama School of Medicine, is one of these returning storytellers.

Potts grew up in Aliceville, a small town in Pickens County, and he won’t be telling stories alone this year. His cousin Mike Potts will be performing with him.

“Mike is absolutely hilarious,” he said.

The duo, like Walker, also plans on telling stories about their family and being spontaneous.

“It makes them funnier, and we’ve told these stories so many times,” Daniel Potts said. “You roll the dough out for your biscuits a little bit different each time, and this biscuit may be different than your last, but it’s still a biscuit.”

Though Potts grew up steeped in the tradition of storytelling, he said he has most recently seen the value of storytelling in his medical practice.

“Sharing stories is therapeutic,” he said. “Caring for my dad, who had Alzheimer’s disease, one of the saddest things was when he lost his ability to communicate, which is often what leads to depression and a loss of hope in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. They can’t tell their stories anymore.”

This is what led Potts to create Cognitive Dynamics, a foundation dedicated to helping patients with cognitive disorders cope and communicate through expressive arts like storytelling, painting and music.

English professor Brian Oliu, like Potts, will also explore the theme of communication with his stories, only his will revolve around “missed connections” he posted on Craig’s List that all take place in Tuscaloosa.

In 22 different places around Tuscaloosa, Oliu saw someone, missed his opportunity to connect with that person and then posted a “missed connection” on Craig’s List, through which he could simultaneously call out to that person, regret his missed opportunity and hope to connect.

Oliu said he is excited about reading at the festival because the environment allows him to provide more background information about his story than he normally would in traditional settings. He’s also excited about sharing his work as a writer.

“Writing is a very private practice that at some point needs to get out there,” he said. “I love giving readings because I can get my work out there. I can say, ‘This is why I didn’t come out the other night. This is what I’ve been working on.’”

Davidson said there will be a storyteller performing at the storytelling tent throughout the day on Saturday, with some of the bigger acts also performing on the main stage.



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