|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: PSU's Doug Bennett will host a storytelling concert Dec. 11

  • Birds and butterflies can fly without airplanes and chimps have been observed making tools. But, as far as anybody knows, human beings are the only ones who tell stories.



    Every culture around the world seems to have a collection of  stories and tales, and Doug Bennett, a member of the Pittsburg State University communication department faculty since 2010, can tell a lot of them.

    • email print
  • Birds and butterflies can fly without airplanes and chimps have been observed making tools. But, as far as anybody knows, human beings are the only ones who tell stories.
    Every culture around the world seems to have a collection of  stories and tales, and Doug Bennett, a member of the Pittsburg State University communication department faculty since 2010, can tell a lot of them.
    “In China to Japan they are telling the same stories as they are in France or South America,” he said. “I assume every culture has similar issues and they deal with them through storytelling. We didn’t even have a written language system until 3 or 4,000 years ago, and even then only a few had access to that training. The rest of the people got information through oral stories.”
    Stories can pass on the history of a tribe or nation, as well as the teller’s own personal experiences. They are also often used to teach lessons in proper conduct, especially to children.
    “Storytelling was very important early in human history, before there was formal education,” Bennett said.
    He said he used to teach in public schools.
    “I did a junior high lesson storytelling and told the students a story,” Bennett said. “The kids were so excited that they wanted me to tell it again. I told a friend, and she said that East Tennessee State University offered a master’s degree in storytelling. That  was convenient because I was looking for an advance degree. This was on Tuesday, and by Friday I was enrolled.”
    He earned his master of arts in storytelling from East Tennessee State in 2003. He had previously received a bachelor of science in theater in 1983 from Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo, and a master’s degree in education in theater from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1993. In 2009 Bennett received a master of fine arts in technical theater from Minnesota State University at Mankato.
    He said that he pursued storytelling professionally after earning his master’s degree, then put it aside for a time.
    “Now I’m trying to bring it back,” he said. “I did a few storytelling events when I got here at Lakeside and Westside Elementary Schools and at the Family Resource Center. I had a mixed audience of kids and adults, and the adults were almost more excited than  the kids were.”
    He has attended storytelling festivals and organized one himself in Paw Paw, Mich., his hometown.
    “Around 35 or 40  years ago it looked like the storytelling tradition was withering away, then the national festival  came along,” Bennett said. “It’s held on the first full weekend in October at Jonesborough, Tenn., and that erupts from 1,000 to 10,000 people for the weekend.”
    His own storytelling includes traditional European and American folk tales, along with some based on his own experiences.
    Page 2 of 2 - “One of my favorites to tell is O. Henry’s ‘The Ransom of Red Chief’,” Bennett said. “I use voices and try to act out the characters, make it more theatrical.  I also tell about how I came to be recruited by the  CIA. I leave it to you whether the story is true or not.”
    He will give a storytelling concert, “The Art of Storytelling,” at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Pittsburg Public Library. The free public event will be suitable for all ages.
    “Along with the telling, I will share my thoughts on how I come about crafting stories,” Bennett said. “I want to educate the public that storytelling is not just for kids, and that with some good training and experience pretty much anyone can be a storyteller.”
    He’s also going to produce a regional storytelling festival April 6, also at the  Pittsburg Public Library, featuring six regional storytellers. Each teller will start at the top of the hour, beginning at 10 a.m.
    “There’s not a lot of storytelling in southeast Kansas, and I hope the festival will spark an interest,” Bennett said. “Maybe we  could have an even larger festival with national and international storytellers later.
    He’s also  open to conducting workshops for those interested in becoming storytellers. Anyone wishing additional information may contact him at dougbennett6@yahoo.com or call 620-308-5305.
      • calendar