Her appearance is part of the International Storytelling Center’s Teller-in-Residence program, which brings a new storyteller to town each week through the end of October.
Throughout her residency, Tuesday to Saturday, July 10 - 14, Forest will share a wide range of stories and songs. All concerts begin at 2 p.m. in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall.
“It’s very rewarding to see that people are still interested in folk tales and ancient stories,” Forest says. “They’re universal because they’re the stories that people save—not because they happened, but because there’s truth in them.”
Forest’s wide repertoire includes selections from old tales like Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and the Odyssey. “I like folk tales where heroes must be clever and resourceful,” she says. “I’m not interested in tales that have passive princesses.”
In an era that places a lot of emphasis on personal stories, Forest has found that folk tales can be surprisingly personal. “I tell personal stories in concert sometimes, but they come as part of the palette. I’m interested in the stories that folks tell,” she says. “For example, I have a story about my dad. He had a kind of miracle experience that allowed him to come home from World War II. That’s fun to tell juxtaposed against other tales about life and death and persistence.”
She steers towards stories with wide appeal, often finding that wild epics echo the most common events in people’s everyday lives. “I pick stories that I think will touch people because they have universal themes or they reflect experiences that people come upon daily—joy, sorrow, hope, fear, life and death.”
Finding these connections across cultures and time feels like particularly important work in today’s divided political climate. “My stories reflect things that are important to me personally and they link to my own life,” Forest says. “But I also feel that, at this time in our culture, where there’s such animosity around the world, it’s important to find commonality. Where are the places that we are the same? It’s valuable to provide a window into other cultures, and what human beings have really thought about over the centuries.”
Forest often thinks of herself as a treasure collector whose responsibility is to curate her most incredible finds. Her week in Jonesborough will highlight some of the gems in her collection.
“I’ll be telling different stories every day,” she says. “All the stories will be told in my troubadour’s style of blending poetry and prose and original guitar music. I’m delighted to be back.”
Tickets for Forest’s concerts are just $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Advance purchase is recommended for all performances.
All ticketholders can present their ticket stubs for a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at JJ’s Eatery and Ice Cream; Main Street Café (lunch only); Medley Vegan Vegetarian; Olde Towne Pancake House; and The Corner Cup. Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.
Storytelling Live! runs from May through the end of October, with daily matinees Tuesday through Saturday and special programming like evening concerts and workshops scheduled throughout the season.
Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2018, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net. 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, 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.
The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.