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NIU presents Storytellers Theatre

Whether told through spoken word, sign language or drawn symbols, storytelling connects generations of people, teaches lessons and shares culture.

Professor Patricia Ridge’s storytelling class will put on a show comprised of 27 different stories. Each of the 27 students will perform a story of their choice on one night during the run of the show. The students in the class had the option to tell an original, adapted or classical story. The pieces they chose range from folk tales and legends to contemporary pieces.

Storytellers Theatre will run today through Sunday.

“There is a story for everyone – comedy, fantasy, drama, tragedy, folk, stories from around the world, for all ages,” Ridge said in a news release.

Senior theater studies major Christy Gianneschi will tell an original story she wrote about her father and grandfather. For much of her life, Gianneschi has noticed parallel situations between the two men, and she wanted to share how accurate the phrase “like father, like son” really is.

Students also had the option of working together to perform tandem stories, such as The Walrus and the Carpenter, told by Gianneschi and sophomore Branden Dunlap.

Ridge herself, who is a professional storyteller and has performed at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., also will tell a few stories. She said she plans to tell a version of The Polar Express along with some old legends.

“One of my favorite stories to tell is about an old colleague named Thaddeus P. Crush,” Ridge said in the release. He was a pilot she worked with at a psychiatric hospital, and they flew together several times. As the story goes, none of those experiences were pleasant.

Storytellers Theatre is part of the School of Theatre and Dance’s studio series. It is unlike any of the other shows in the series, which have all been scripted plays. Storytelling is much more flexible and involves the audience in a way other plays cannot.

Gianneschi said she is excited about this performance because it gives her and her classmates the opportunity to pass on the stories that have inspired them. They are telling the stories they grew up with, the ones that have stuck with them since childhood. They are a part of the storytelling cycle, hearing it, learning it and passing it on, hoping someone will be touched by what they have to say.

Storytellers Theatre will stage in the Stevens Building Corner Theatre on the NIU DeKalb campus. Weeknight and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

Tickets for Storytellers Theatre cost $6 and are only available one hour before each performance. Call 815-753-1600 or email sotdboxoffice@niu.edu for more information.

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