By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Folk tales and songs lit up the Plainville Senior Center last week with the CT Storytelling Center’s event, “Tellabration.”
Presented by Ann Shapiro, the Executive Director of the CT Storytelling Center, “Tellabration” serves as a way to promote the oral art of storytelling.
According to the CT Storytelling Center, “Tellabration” began in 1988 as a way to remind adults about the pleasure of listening to stories. Founded by J.G. “Paw-Paw” Pinkerton, the event has transformed into a worldwide affair, spreading to different states and even Japan. This November, 25 Tellabrations take place throughout Connecticut.
“Storytelling is a real gift and a real art,” said Ronda Guberman, the assistant director of the senior center. “It is magical.”
An educator for over 30 years, Shapiro serves as an artist in residence in Connecticut schools, helping teachers and students to keep folk traditions alive through the sharing of old stories and songs. Shapiro’s songs and stories provide insight into other cultures and traditions, and deal with universal problems.
Shapiro said she hopes Tellabration will influence children and adults to continue oral storytelling as a form of communication.
“Storytelling is not just for kids,” said Shapiro, who started playing the piano at the age of seven. “Oral storytelling is one of the oldest forms of art.”
Playing folk songs on her guitar and the ukulele, Shapiro brought old tales to life, as guests clapped their hands and sang along. From telling the tale of “Aaron Kelley’s Bones” to singing “Turkey in the Straw” with metal spoons in her hand, Shapiro kept the crowd entertained.
“It is fun to see what they are interested in,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro shared other folk tales including one from “Jack Tales” called “Fire Dragaman,” a story told in the Appalachian Mountains that originated from England and Ireland. She also sang the 1898 tale of “The Cat Came Back,” which tells the story of a man who tried to give his pet away, but the feline continued to return every time.
This song resonated with local resident Roberta Lalama, who recognized the song from her childhood. Bobbing her head to the beat of Shapiro’s guitar, Lalama said the event gave her an opportunity to reminisce old times.
“It brings back memories,” she said. “It was fun.”
For Susan Nestor, the songs and tales were unfamiliar, but she still enjoyed the program.
“It was fantastic,” Nestor said. “I never heard the songs before, but I liked all of them.”
Shapiro also told the story of “Aaron Kelley’s Bones,” a horror tale about a man who returns to his home as a skeleton, refusing to leave his wife as he continues to sway back and forth in a rocking chair.