Stories with a twist are on order at this year’s Tellabration! in Murrysville |

Stories with a twist are on order at this year’s Tellabration! in Murrysville

Rex Rutkoski

No books, no props. Just one person and your imagination.

That, Murrysville resident Mike Dibert says, is what good, old-fashioned storytelling is all about.

He’ll celebrate that fact Saturday at Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church, Murrysville, with other storytellers throughout the Pittsburgh area, and at various locations around the world, as part of Tellabration! Tales are to be told at the same time globally.

The international day of storytelling, held the fourth weekend in November under the umbrella of the National Storytelling Association, is more than 35 years old. Locally, this is the 11th annual spotlight on this centuries-old oral tradition sponsored by StoryWorks Storytelling Guild of Murrysville and Murrysville Community Library. Dibert is the guild’s co-founder.

It is free and open to adults and children older than 10, and it features a variety of folktales, fables, classics and original tales.

“Stories link us to the past and give us thoughts and ideas on how to handle the challenges of the day,” says Judy Kane of Washington Township, who is participating in her second Tellebration! “There is all kinds of electronic entertainment for people today. But storytelling makes a person think and follow the story in their mind, creating pictures for each individual.” It also encourages interaction at home and something for families to discuss after the program, says the retired educational administrator.

This year’s theme is stories with a twist.

That will make for an interesting night, says Dibert, who is drawn to tales of adventure and whose own twist will revolve around “a remarkable tale of a gunfight in the Old West.” He is known for his use of voice and physical movement.

Often when he is finished with one of his accounts, somebody will ask if it was true or not. “I usually let them decide,” he says.

Dibert, producer, author and performer on the “Dreamchasers” audio production — stories and songs of influential Americans — is a second-grade teacher in the Franklin Regional School District and has been involved in storytelling for about 20 years. “I like entertaining people, especially through storytelling. It takes a lot of work and time to hone your skills and develop the art, but the reward of seeing people laugh or even cry is worth all the time spent,” he says.

Storytelling remains a vital tradition, says Marsha Wong of Murrysville, teacher and world traveler, who will share a historical fiction about young women living on the edge of two cultures in Native American boarding schools. “Storytelling forms a bond, a special connection between us and all of the people who have ever lived and who are alive today,” she says.

It gives us an opportunity, she adds, to learn about ourselves, uncover mysteries, understand cultures, imagine ourselves in other time periods, meet people we have never met before, travel to places we have yet to discover and understand those we have visited.

“It creates a sense of magic, and for that we are grateful,” Wong says. She has seen “a huge renaissance” in storytelling since the early 1970s. “Stories are part of our oral tradition and our history. Everyone has a story,” she says.

Kane is looking forward to telling an original fable called “Duck, Duck, Goose” in tandem with her friend, teacher Mary Ann Park of Elizabeth. This interactive dialogue can be more challenging than telling an individual story, Kane says. “It is more like a short play,” she says.

“It started while my husband and I were having dinner and watching a duck doggedly following a goose,” explains Park, who has used storytelling in the classroom for many years and has given workshops to teachers. “We wrote a short story, and Judy and I turned it into a story to tell.”

It comes with its own moral, adds Kane: “If you are a greedy duck, you may find yourself on a slippery slope.”

Additional Information:


When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church, 4600 William Penn Highway, Murrysville

Admission: Free

Details: 724-733-7977; or 724-307-8679;

Directions: online


Additional Information:

About StoryWorks

When: StoryWorks meetings are at 7:30 p.m., the second Monday of each month, in the Murrysville Library. There is no membership fee. New storytellers and listeners are welcome.

Details : 724-307-8679.

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