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Storyteller Jim May to perform in Jonesborough

Contributed • Jun 10, 2019 at 6:56 AM

Emmy Award-winning storyteller Jim May, the latest entertainer in Jonesborough’s unique “Storytelling Live!” series, will perform at the International Storytelling Center from June 11-15.

The performances, which all take place in the ISC’s state-of-the art theater (in the Main Street facility), are expected to draw sizable summer crowds.

“Storytelling Live!” follows a special format, hosting a new storyteller from around the country each week from May through October. Those in the lineup have a chance to stretch their legs as performers, debuting new stories alongside archival tales. Meanwhile, crowds have a chance to sample different kinds of live storytelling on demand (though reservations are highly recommended).

“The theater is a great place to work,” May said. “It’s an ideal size. It’s intimate. It’s lovely, and it’s a good place to perform new material as well as old favorites.”

During his weeklong appearance, May will share many tales, including family stories from a recently published collection for adults, and light stories from a series of popular children’s books he authored.

Many of his personal pieces are about Nippersink Creek, an area in rural Illinois where he grew up, and still lives. May also tells folk tales and fictional stories, mostly inspired by the large Spanish-speaking population back home.

“We have about 65% Hispanic families in our town,” he explains. “I’ve been working for years now as a resident storyteller with the dual-language program. I’ve also been going to Mexico for about 15 years now, taking an adult group of storytellers and writers to Oaxaca, Mexico.”

May also works with young students and their parents to promote literacy through storytelling, two areas of language that are deeply connected.

“The more stories children hear, and the more language children hear, the better they’ll do at school,” he says. “I remember working with a principal who told me some of the classes were bilingual, some were Spanish only, and some were English only. It was kind of confusing, but he said it didn’t matter. Language is language! So I take a really fluid multilingual approach.”

May is delighted to spend a week of his summer in the storytelling capital of the world.

“I love Jonesborough,” he says. “What’s not to love?”

Daily matinees will run June 11-15, with tickets priced at $12 for adults. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Shows begin at 2 p.m. each day, and will feature May’s signature blend of personal stories, fictional pieces and folk tales.

Discounted $11 tickets are available for seniors, students and anyone under 18, and heavily discounted season passes are still available.

Additionally, exclusive discounts are 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.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about “Storytelling Live!”, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit www.storytellingcenter.net or call 800-952-8392.

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