Storyteller Leeny Del Seamonds encourages her audiences to live her stories, to journey with her through time and place, meeting characters and experiencing the tale.
Del Seamonds will bring her repertoire of tales -- folk legends and ghost tales, original stories and multicultural yarns -- to audiences today through Saturday, during the York County Library's annual Patchwork Tales Storytelling Festival at York Technical College's Baxter Hood Center in Rock Hill.
Del Seamonds, who stars in the award-winning PBS Television children's series "Ribert & Robert's WonderWorld," is among a slate of renowned featured storyteller performers, who also will include Willy Claflin and the Storycrafters.
Storyteller Darion McCloud and the Madcap Puppet theater will perform during the three-day event, which also includes shows at area schools, and "new-timey" bluegrass music will be provided by the Shady Grove Band of Chapel Hill, N.C.
Del Seamonds, who hails from Westford, Mass., and has been a professional storyteller for 18 years, views storytelling as the perfect form of communication, fostering literacy and touching on such varied subjects as geography and history.
"There's always a moral and a lesson, certainly with the ones I tell, that's important," Del Seamonds said in a telephone interview this week. "But I don't tell them, 'This is the moral.' I want people to draw their own conclusions."
Del Seamonds and Claflin, a former teacher who lives in San Francisco, have enjoyed developing their art amid a national storytelling revival.
"We're sort of in the middle of a revival of storytelling as a form of entertainment for people," Claflin said. "I'm quite impressed with what's happened over the last 20 years. There are now about 90 storytelling fetsivals across the country."
And though today's children and teens live in a visual culture, with constant exposure to electronic media, Claflin finds they are still mesmerized by good, old-fashioned storytelling.
"It's so novel to them," Claflin said. "It's so unusual, because they get so little of it, so when they hear it they're just kind of amazed . . . I find that when the book disappears and you just tell the story, if the storytelling is good, you sort of enter this timeless space."
Claflin, a former folk musician who performed music and comedy as a Harvard University student, later turned to teaching, where he discovered a talent for creative curriculum. He developed his puppet characters, Maynard Moose, Boring Beaver, Socklops and Gorf, who often participate in his shows.
"I've got a whole bunch of different styles, and the thing that holds them together is that everything is a good story," he said. "And there's comedy in everything I do."
Del Seamonds, who has a background in theater, is described as a master performer of Hispanic/Latino tales and multicultural stories, spiced with mime and a cornocopia of voices.
"Most of my stories, even my original stories, are uplifting and engaging, and they hopefully bring together cultures," Del Seamonds said. "I'm a strong believer in one world, one people."
Both Claflin and Del Seamonds see storytelling as promoting the art of literacy by exposing children to language and encouraging them to visualize a story.
Del Seamonds said that when she speaks to students, "often I ask, 'What do you think a particular character looked like?' And what they will describe is very particular."
Other participants in the festival include the Storycrafters, a duo that includes Barry Marshall and Jeri Burns, who are award-winning radio shows hosts, recording artists, writers and adjunct college faculty members at Southern Connecticut State University.
Madcap Productions Puppet Theatre, which will present a Saturday show, "Long Lost Stories," is a nonprofit touring children's theater company that combines giant puppets with actors and the audience to create a unique style of puppet theater.
With assistance from a grant administered through the South Carolina State Library, Patchwork Tales began in 1996 to promote storytelling and to enhance family literacy.
The festival is presented by the York County Library and sponsored by the Friends of the York County Library, The Herald, Comporium Communications and Wal-Mart with additional funding from the Rock Hill accommodations tax program.
The following public events are part of the Patchwork Tales Storytelling Festival, today through Saturday at the Baxter Hood Center at York Technical College in Rock Hill. All events are free except the Saturday morning workshop. For details, call 981-5840.
• Down Home: Stories and Folk Music for Adults, 2:45 to 4:30 p.m. today. Traditional and contemporary stories told by national storytellers Willy Claflin and The Storycrafters with bluegrass music by The Shady Grove Band. Doors open at 2:15 p.m.
• Storytelling Sampler, 7 to 9:30 p.m Friday. Tales told by national storytellers Leeny Del Seamonds, Willy Claflin and The Storycrafters. Doors open at 6:16 p.m.
• Tell It Again! Stories Alive Workshop, 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. Sessions include Fractured Fairy Tales and Scrambled Nursery Rhymes, presented by Willy Claflinm and Spoken Word Alive! and Ay, ay, ay! by Leeny Del Seamonds. Admission, $15 at the door. Adults only.
• Madcap Productions Puppet Theatre presents "Long Lost Stories," 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 12:45 p.m.
• Ghostly Gallery: Eerie Tales for Teen and Adults, 7 to 8:45 p.m. Saturday. Spine-tingling tales by Leeny Del Seamonds and The Storycrafters with special guest teller Darion McCloud and emcee Tim Lowry. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.