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Storytellers Gather In St. Louis For 35th Annual Festival Honoring Their Craft

courtesy photo

More than 40 regional storytellers from Kansas City to Peoria, Illinois have converged on St. Louis this week for the 35th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Performances and workshops are geared for a wide range of audiences, and are spread throughout the St. Louis region in venues ranging from the Gateway Arch to the Cahokia Mounds.

The culmination of the festival is the storytelling grand finale Saturday night at the Touhill. All events are free except for the finale, which features professional storytellers Jackson Gillman, Kim & Reggie Harris, Beth Horner, Bill Lepp, Motoko and Tim Tingle.

St. Louisan Bobby Norfolk is one of the storytellers participating in the festival. On Thursday he performed Stories for the Young Listener at Faith Des Peres Presbyterian Church in Frontenac.

During Cityscape, Norfolk performed two stories: a light-hearted rap version of the 400-year-old Norwegian folktale “Three Billy Goats Gruff” and a more serious tale published in The New Yorker in 1961, “The Cold Within.”

Listen to the audio of his storytelling below.

Bobby Norfolk performing "Three Billy Goats Gruff Rap."

Bobby Norfolk performing "The Cold Within."

Norfolk had a stutter from Kindergarten through tenth grade, but when he performed he didn’t stutter. His teachers encouraged him to perform in drama club and choir, where he first discovered his talent for storytelling.  In particular, said Norfolk, he is “standing on the shoulders” of one of his teachers at Sumner High School, who suggested he learn meditation techniques.

“It is she who saw things in me I didn’t see in myself,” said Norfolk.

Related Events

35th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival
May 1-3, 2014
Various Times
Various Locations
For more information, call 314-516-5961 or visit the St. Louis Storytelling Festival website.

35th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival Finale
Saturday, May 3, 2014
7:30 p.m.
UMSL's Touhill Performing Arts Center
For more information call 314-516-4949 or visit the Touhill Performing Arts Center website.


Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer, hosted by Steve Potter and funded in part by the the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

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