Johnson City Press: Weaving personal and timeless tales with Noa Baum at "Storytelling Live!"
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Weaving personal and timeless tales with Noa Baum at "Storytelling Live!"

Contributed • Updated Jul 8, 2019 at 12:00 AM

A storyteller known for her deft blend of personal stories and traditional tales, Noa Baum will soon travel to Jonesborough as the International Storytelling Center’s next teller in residence.

Her “Storytelling Live!” residency will include daily concerts from July 9-13, Tuesday through Saturday, with matinees beginning at 2 p.m. Most of the material Baum will be performing is new, with a few nods to the classics.

Baum’s style has developed in part as a response to the personal storytelling movement.

“I don’t want people to forget that storytelling is an ancient art with ancient wisdom that has been passed over thousands of years,” she says. “So I look for ways to introduce people to its power. There’s such a wide and diverse world under the umbrella we call storytelling.”

Her traditional stories include diverse genres such as folk tales, wisdom stories and fairy tales, among others.

On Thursday, June 11, Baum will also host ISC’s second storytelling workshop of the season, “Beyond Labels: Bridging Differences through Storytelling.” The two-hour event (9:30-11:30 a.m.) will explore how storytelling can break through stereotypes and lead to dialogue, compassion and change.

“Peace-building is a huge part of my work,” Baum says. “Stories for peace-building and connecting people across differences are so important. I first learned that working with Israelis and Palestinians on a grassroots level. But every peace initiative in the world that has worked is, at its core, people starting to really listen to each other and hear each other’s stories.”

“The workshop is really going to focus on the sacred listening model — listening to the whole person instead of soundbites, headlines, or political declarations,” she adds. “It’s designed for anyone who works with differences, whether it’s in the workplace, within a community or across divides.”

Baum notes that the workshop is well suited to therapists, educators, community leaders and faith leaders. Advance registration is recommended.

Baum’s point of view with regard to peace-building has its roots in neurobiology.

“The brain has a capacity for compassion,” she said, “but when we’re threatened or scared, that capacity shuts down automatically. Story is different from debate or argument because it softens our defenses.”

Reservations for all Storytelling Live! performances are also recommended, but not required. Tickets for all matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Heavily discounted season passes are still available for a limited time.

The storyteller’s return to Jonesborough for her second residence is something she’s long been looking forward to.

“What’s not to like?” she says. “Jonesborough is storytelling heaven. It’s a chance to share stories you love with an audience every single day.”

Exclusive discounts are still available to all ticket-holders. Ticket stubs will earn a 10% discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10% off prepared meals and 5% off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of “Storytelling Live!” is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

Storytelling Live! is a seasonal program that runs from April to October. For more information about “Storytelling Live!”, including the full 2019 lineup, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit www.storytellingcenter.net or call 800-952-8392.

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