Storytelling Festival

story telling festival
Storytelling Festival: Stories Gone Wild!

Stories Gone Wild!- February 5-6, 2016

Local storyteller and sand painting artist Ralph Stocker makes his first public debut with his daughter Genevieve during the February 5th Art Hop at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum's Storytelling Festival kick-off. Ralph, a graphic design graduate from Western Michigan University, has been choreographing live drawings in sand to music at church in Kalamazoo for years, and his daughter recently joined him. These captivating performances were brought to the Museum’s attention when we were looking for a sand painter/storyteller to show the diversity of storytelling. We are excited to be able to show how music, art, and storytelling go together so well as part of this year’s theme, Stories Gone Wild!

Ralph loved to draw as a child, a passion shared by his daughter. He originally gravitated toward drawing with pencil and mural painting, eventually leading to his latest medium, sand. His love for music and painting first came together in the form of sand painting storytelling when he observed another sand painter at work. He was then challenged by a friend to try to tell stories through sand as well. "Often I am inspired first by a song, and I see images as the song progresses," Ralph says. Using his hands to create shadows, line, and images in the sand, Ralph leads the audience through a moving story set to and inspired by the music.

Ralph was elated when his daughter starting working with him. "To be able to share this experience with her makes me so proud. I love to see the way that she challenges me and how we work together to create something even better because she is involved." Together, they create a changing storyboard in sand to music that is then projected onto a screen using a camera and projector so a larger audience can watch. They will perform a series of stories to contemporary pop music in the Museum’s Mary Jane Stryker Theater.

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum welcomes back one of the most animated storytellers we know, Adam Mellema, to the 2016 Storytelling Festival: Stories Gone Wild. We have watched him age from a young soldier to a senior WWII vet, parade around as an elephant, and prance as a jester; Adam Mellema brings all he has to his storytelling performances, and they move us to tears and laughter. This year, Mellema will be performing a variety of wild and crazy stories on Saturday, February 6, at 12 p.m.

Before falling in love with producing, Adam Mellema lived large in the world of storytelling, appearing at the Washington Storytellers Theatre, the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Perkins School for the Deaf and Blind in Boston, and in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Olympics. For years, he’s performed original works and stories from his mostly-true life at schools and libraries across the country.

Adam received a regional Emmy Award for his work on Come On Over, a kids' show on JellyTelly and the Smile of a Child Network. For Disney Channel, Adam was a producer and writer on all 12 feature-length “What’s What Editions” (akin to VH1’s Pop Up Video), including High School Musical, Camp Rock, Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, and Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure. Other credits for Disney include producing the “Rise and Shine” music video from the Sophia movie, two seasons of music videos for Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and an episode of Phineas & Ferb featuring Kelly Osbourne. During his time as an in-house producer at Hub Network, Adam’s favorite projects included the “Spooksville: Freak Files” web series, an Alf Marathon (hosted by Alf) and the “Blossom Reunion” special.

Adam is currently in production on an original preschool series called Charlie & Company for School Zone Publishing’s “Little Scholar” tablet. In his “spare time,” Adam proudly serves as board president for Los Angeles-based Rogue Artists Ensemble. He also recycles, jogs in order to eat more pastries, and dreams of learning to play the zither. Adam performed two years ago at the Storytelling Festival. We are so excited to have him back!

Crawlspace Theatre joins this year’s Storytelling Festival: Stories Gone Wild! at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. They will take to the stage on February 6 at 1 p.m., inviting the audience to lead them on a wild adventure. Slightly odd, spontaneous, and hilarious describe the Crawlspace Eviction team of improv actors.

Creating comedy sketches since 2003, this unique and occasionally revolving team has competed in improv festivals across the United States as well as the Toronto International Improv Festival. In 2006, the team wrote and starred in the movie Comic Evangelists, which premiered at the American Film Institute Fest in Hollywood, CA. The film was directed by Dan Jones and Dann Systma and received great honors from film festivals from Hollywood to Lansing, MI. The group performs throughout the state as well as in their home theatre, Farmers Alley Theatre.

Husband and wife team Robert and Audrey Allison have taken storytelling and music to a whole new level, mastering a wide variety of instruments from all over the world and melding them with stories of emerging significance to their audiences. The have been performing and teaching for over 35 years in the Great Lakes region, including seven states and Canada. They will perform for the February 5th Art Hop at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum at 5:30 p.m. as part of the 4th Annual Storytelling Festival.

Robert and Audrey formed the Storytellers Inc. in 1980, utilizing interactive storytelling and musical instruments from South America, North America, West Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Ukraine, South Africa, Asia, and Australia. Incorporating audience participation with stories about literacy, cultural diversity, community awareness, moral values, education, family strength, anti-violence, and technological advances in music, this duo has performed and led workshops in over 3,000 schools, libraries, and community centers.

Audrey is a writer, storyteller, lecturer, percussionist, arts educator, workshop facilitator, and composer. She has researched and cataloged hundreds of stories and folktales from all over the world. Audrey is frequently commissioned to write stories for dance and other arts organizations. Her amazing animated style, vast repertoire, and remarkable vocal manipulation distinguishes her as one of today’s finest storytellers.

Robert, an accomplished musician, has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Ballet, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, as well as with Andy Williams, Barry Manilow, Diane Carroll, E. Humperdink, Della Reese, Liza Minnelli, and many others. A talented percussionist, mallet percussion specialist, master of mallet-triggered digital interfaces, arts administrator, music educator, and arts consultant, he orchestrates a unique combination of music with Aubrey’s stories.

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum welcomes back the Storytellers to this year’s Storytelling Festival.