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Article
Storyteller Draws Crowd to Sunday Traditional Meal

By Daniel DeVries

 

Originally published in The Daily Gazette, Feb. 14, 2005

 

A down-south story of a preacher’s marriage wisdom, and another of bitter wives shaming their husbands drew torrents of laughter at the Glen Sanders Mansion on Sunday – and that was before salad was served.

 

The Story Circle of the Capital District host its February Story Sunday meal with some wry stales from nationally renowned storyteller Elizabeth Ellis, of Dallas.

 

“She’s eminently known in the storytelling ranks,” said one of the organizers, Joe Doolittle

 

The meal consists of food with stories intertwined between salad, entrée and dessert.

 

Kate Dudding, the other organizer of Story Sundays and a storyteller, said the craft of spinning a good yard is well beyond casual tales told by relatives at a holiday dinner table.

 

“People at dinner tables tell anecdotes and also may get distracted  ... there are a lot of detours in anecdotes,” Dudding said of the art.  “In storytelling, people [speak] on a platform and they do it deliberately.”

 

Those attending Story Circle special banquets come to listen to stories and eat well, Dudding said, adding that the group has logged about 2,900 visits for the meals.

 

Group members meet once a month to work on their own stories, which Dudding said are different from a bedtime story.

 

“It’s partially content [for adults] and you also assume that adults have learned through life experiences …  It would be presumptuous of me to say ‘This is the one and only meaning of the story.’”

 

Bertha Berman of Scotia said she has attended each of the group’s more than 40 story night since they began in 1999.

 

“I guess I’m a little kid [when] I get caught up in the stories,” Berman said, adding that she has always enjoyed the warm family atmosphere of the Story Sunday meals.  “Even if I don’t know everybody, they know me.”

 

Karen Kennedy of Rexford said she has attended several story nights during the past three years.

 

“Just hearing homespun stories that you associate with sitting on your grandfather’s knee,” is how Kennedy described the experience.

 

Of the approximately 75 people at Sunday’s dinner, several traveled from as far as New Hampshire and Vermont, Dudding said.

 

Ellis thanked the audience for their enjoyment of her first few stories.

 

“Telling stories to an empty room is no fun at all,” Ellis said.