In The Ark’s 32nd year of its storytelling festival, we were graced with a mix of personal and traditional tales from three wonderful performers. Each storyteller had their own style of storytelling, all of which were appealing and intriguing and full of lessons to be learned.
Ivory Williams of Detroit started the night off with his stories that very much involved the audience. He started with a story about God’s creation and dispersal of people, putting the best people in Ann Arbor obviously. His story about a monster blocking the bridge highlighted the meaning behind obstacles, which you don’t always have to fight with force, since they are meant to be embraced. The young girl of the story, who embraced the monster and become successful in life, did the two most important things a successful person must do: she returned to her village to share what she learned, and she told stories. The morals of kindness and love guided Williams’s stories, and his use of repetition tied the story nicely together, making it twice as nice and twice as powerful.
Next was Edgar Oliver, who had a very timid yet enthralling voice, as he performed for us snippets of his shows and some pieces of poetry as well. His vivid imagery and meticulous details of his stories set the stage for some absurd twist in the story that he delivered with such deadpan emotion, the audience loved it. From the albino watermelons trapped under a swimming pool to the trash can goddess and his love for red wine to the trampling pig, Oliver regaled us with his very distinct storytelling. He took us all over the world, telling us stories about his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, his time spent in France, and his life in New York City. His stories were sprinkled with entertaining comedy, though there was a hint of sadness and regret in the last snippet from a show he’s still writing; however, through his words and stories, Victor lives on in his memories and in ours.
Finally, Laura Simms finished the night with her love stories, which took on a variety of forms. She told us about the fairy she met on the New York City subway, and the time she saw Nina Simone perform, which was the first time she fell in love with the world. Then, she told a long and humorous story about a prince’s long and desperate journey looking for true love, emphasizing the importance of true companionship. She ended with the story of her mother’s seal skin coat and the powers it had in transferring good to the world.
Williams, Oliver, and Simms all captivated the audience with their engaging words and stories. Their stories taught us to think about the good in ourselves and in others, and to look for true love in every moment of our lives. This wonderful tradition at The Ark gives the people of Ann Arbor a night of entertainment filled with kindness and love through the simple power of words. As Williams repeated throughout the night, stories must be told.