Spinning Class | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

Spinning Class 

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"When you tell someone what you did today, you're telling a story," says professional storyteller Doug Elliott from his home in North Carolina. "Narrative is the basic structure of our lives. A storyteller is someone who tries to make that narrative interesting." Usually, he says, that's done by finding the universality of the story and paying attention to timing and humor. But a told story is not the same as a written story: "Good literature is usually both too wordy and too succinct to work as spoken word." Elliott, who says he's been a storyteller all his life--"just like you, just like all of us"--has been doing it professionally for 20 years. Also a freelance herbalist and naturalist who sets up shop at folk festivals, peddling his wares from his van, Elliott finds inspiration in the stories he hears on the road. This Saturday, March 8, he'll pass on what he knows at a storytelling workshop that leads off the fifth annual Storytelling at the Prairie Center festival. The workshop is from 9 to 11 and will be followed by a "Family Story Sampler" at noon. The program continues at 1:30 with an afternoon of stories from five tellers: Tersi Agra Bendiburg, with tales from Cuba and Central America; Denise Berry-Hanna, talking about "wise women, fools, lovers, heroes, and food"; Willy Claflin, with ballads from around the world; Linda Gorham, telling folktales, fables, and hero stories; and Elliott. Admission for the workshop is $30, the Sampler alone is $7, and the afternoon session is $10. It's at the Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court in Schaumburg. Call 847-895-3600 for tickets.

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