This edition of the Storytellers Channel’s newsletter we are celebrating the 3rd Annual Hearts Afire Storytelling Festival.
If you can’t join us this weekend here in Richmond; we hope you’ll make an effort to hear these storytelling stars if they cross your path.
In fact, they’re worth going out of your way.
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
Dolores Hydock is an actress and story performer, whose work has been featured at a variety of concerts, festivals, and special events throughout the U.S. She has been a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, has been Teller-in-Residence at Jonesborough’s International Storytelling Center, and her eleven CDs of original stories have all received Resource Awards from Storytelling World Magazine.
Dolores is originally from Reading, Pennsylvania, home of the Reading Railroad and Luden’s Cough Drops. Her hometown is where she won her first blue ribbon in storytelling in a local contest at the age of 5. The real gold letters on the blue ribbon convinced her there was obviously a fortune to be made in the performing arts. She continues to hope.
As an actress, she has been featured in the one-woman plays Tony Curtis Speaks Italian and All I can Say is ‘I Love You,’ Take a Ride on the Reading, In Her Own Fashion, Shirley Valentine, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Becoming Dr. Ruth, Fully Committed, The Lady With All the Answers, and Nothing Sacred: An Evening of Stories by Ferrol Sams. Her early theatrical career included portraying the Statue of Liberty in a Fourth of July pageant. The role required her to stand on a float in the middle of a pond, wearing a 20-pound electrified crown on her head. She somehow managed to survive that role without drowning or electrocuting herself, but has avoided historical dramas ever since.
Dolores lives in Birmingham, Alabama. In her spare time, she tends a garden that includes a pomegranate bush, muscadine vines, blueberry bushes, a 20-foot jujuba tree, and a family of slugs the size of cheap cigars. She’s held a wide variety of jobs: She’s been a house parent at a halfway house for juvenile delinquents, a blues DJ, an au pair in Paris for three small children, a computer sales representative for IBM, a cookbook copy editor, an acting teacher at Birmingham-Southern College, and a teacher of Cajun dancing. If anyone questions her strange path through such a variety of jobs, she simply says that it’s all just material for her stories.
Ilene Evans performs, teaches, and lectures throughout the United States and overseas. She recently toured the Middle East and Columbia for the United States Embassy to share African American Culture. Her work is educational, entertaining, and enjoyable for all ages.
After receiving her B.A. from Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, Ms. Evans studied theater and dance at the University of Wisconsin. Ms. Evans became a member of the dance collaborative, “Momenta!” as dancer and choreographer at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, IL. There she also taught ballet, jazz and modern dance. Later, she joined the staff of Whirlwind Performance Company as a teaching artist and performer. At Whirlwind, she taught dance, choreography, storytelling, vocal technique, and African-American cultural arts. Ms. Evans completed her Masters Degree at East Tennessee State University in the Department of Education with an emphasis in Storytelling.
Ms. Evans has a passion for history and in 1991 she created General Moses: Stories from the Life of Harriet Tubman to feature the story of Harriet Tubman and her role in the Underground Railroad. Most recently she has developed Behind Enemy Lines: Harriet Tubman in the Civil War – The Port Royal Experiment. Ms. Evans received the Tidmarsh Foundation for the Arts grant for touring General Moses. She has performed her piece in conjunction with a companion workshop she developed about the Underground Railroad. Among Ms. Evans’ other original performances are Harvest of Dreams, and They Call Me Ms. Memphis. These pieces reveal the rich African American culture through stories, songs, and poems. Ms Evans performed Harvest of Dreams at the Fringe Festival in Edinburg, Scotland, at the Women’s Universities in Saudi Arabia and at Al-Babtain Library in Kuwait.
Ms. Evans resides in West Virginia. She is co-founder of Voices from the Earth, a non-profit arts organization and has served as the President of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild. She has also been the featured vocalist and storyteller for Peter and the Wolf with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Evans’ original work, Climbing up the Beanstalk, was adapted for stage by director Thomas Reese and performed at the Cincinnati State Community College.
Ms. Evans is included in the West Virginia Artist Roster and the West Virginia Humanities Council History Alive program. Current projects include Behind Enemy Lines a look at Harriet Tubman’s role in the Civil War, as a freedom fighter. She also portrays lesser known African American heroines such as Memphis Tennessee Garrison, Coralie Franklin Cook, Susie King Taylor and Carrie Williams.
Dr. Jim Lavender (the fella on the left in the red flannel shirt) has been entertaining and speaking to audiences since he was 18 years old. Born in the Luxapalila Swamp country of Mississippi, his parents owned a wholesale candy business and his uncle and grandfather had feed and farm stores plus operating the Fairgrounds. His early years accompanying his uncle to the Fairgrounds fostered a love for animals that has grown over the years.
He would sit for hours as a youngster talking to the circus animals appearing at the Fairgrounds while bringing home orphaned wild animals to take care of as well. This love for animals, nurtured by the tireless efforts of his first grade teacher who helped him overcome learning disabilities by teaching him phonics coupled with the use of live animal “visual aids” has followed Jim into adulthood and led him to careers in ringmastering the circus, and training bears, leopards, lions, tigers, horses, zebras, and camels.
Jim’s life changed when he was recruited to play the role of Lil Abner for Dogpatch USA, Inc./Capp Enterprises, for the legendary cartoon artist, Al Capp, whose Lil Abner comic strip was a national hit for the United Feature Syndicate. Nearing the end of a career as Lil Abner, and several other entertainment ventures, Jim received a call to the ministry and became a United Methodist pastor where he served as founding pastor of a successful suburban church for 33 years. Simultaneous with leading a thriving church, Jim and Avis Lavender created and facilitated a unique ministry to children utilizing living adopted animals from entertainment to reach kids through Christian object lessons. In 28 years this outreach touched almost two million children.
Jim Lavender’s storybook life is heart-warming and hilarious. Today, Jim is a professional storyteller, motivational and keynote speaker. Jim and his wife, Avis, live on their Bear Creek Hollow Farm in the low hills of Central Virginia. After rescuing and providing life- saving veterinary procedures for needy animals, including correction of birth defects in some cases, the Lavenders have placed all of their endangered animals in lifetime certified sanctuaries.
Having overcome difficulties in school and failing his first year in college, Jim now holds degrees from Mississippi State University, Duke University, and St. Mary’s Seminary and University. He has additionally studied marketing through the Executive Development Program of The College of William and Mary and The Disney Institute.
Jim Lavender is in demand as a preacher, speaker, and entertainer. He travels nationwide and has published 3 volumes of stories in CD format and a video of his fireside telling of The Christmas Story.
Learn from Masters
Saturday morning January 26 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM all three tellers will be offering workshops.
Dolores Hydock – Stealing Secrets, Breaking Rules:
Balancing on the Seesaw of Creativity and Discipline in the Storytelling Art
Ilene Evans – In the Voice of Our Ancestors
Jim Lavender – Story Development, Genre, & Public Presence
I Want to Hear from You
The next newsletter will be about using story as a leadership tool.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what storytelling topics you’d like to me explore.
Til next time,