My grandfather used to tell the story of "Little Red Riding Hood, Elvis and the Alligator." It was the greatest bedtime tale ever. The characters were motley and memorable (sometimes Mr. T showed up), and perhaps not a little fueled by another contributor, Mr. Jack Daniel. Every story needs some inspiration, after all.
For the past 26 years, the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, coordinated by the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has been inspiring local listeners with tales that take their cues from more traditional, less distilled sources like folklore, myth and Native American tradition. In this, the event's 27th year, the fest's theme is "Sparks by the River: Legacy of a Journey," which honors the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery's return to St. Louis and the gift of stories handed down by that venture.
During the festival, more than 60 regional and national storytellers appear at 30 metro locations (such as the Kirkwood Public Library, the Touhill Performing Arts Center, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site and the Soulard Coffee Garden Café, to name just a few places) to transport listeners of all ages across place and time, from King Arthur's Camelot to Brer Rabbit's briar patch and all points in between. There are also special workshops on family storytelling (today at 10:30 a.m. at the Missouri History Museum) and character development (Thursday, May 4, at 4 p.m., also at the History Museum) for tale-tellers in training.
The festival runs today through Saturday (May 3 through 6), and all events are free. For more information and other locations, visit www.umsl.edu/storytelling or call 314-516-5961.