COURTESY TALK STORY FESTIVAL
Local boy Alton Chung, a national award-winning storyteller, brings his tales to this year's Talk Story Festival.
Talk, talk, talk
THERE WILL BE much "telling in tongues" at Ala Moana Beach Park's McCoy Pavilion when this year's Talk Story Festival kicks off.
The always-ebullient host and storyteller Jeff Gere relates a little tale on each of his participants from here and elsewhere:
Deaf storyteller Ed Chevy.
18TH ANNUAL TALK STORY FESTIVAL
Hosted by Jeff Gere
In performance: 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday
Place: McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Beach Park
Also: "Kaidan Kalabash," 1 to 5 p.m. and 7:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in Moiliili. Free. Call 945-7633 or e-mail email@example.com.
» Friday: "Spooooky Stories" with deaf storyteller Ed Chevy, Alton Chung, "Tita" Kathy Collins, Lopaka Kapanui, Daniel Kelin II, Sandra MacLees and Richard MacPherson
» Saturday: "Epic Adventures" with Hina Kahanu, Kealoha Kelekolio, Brenda Kwon, Erica Lann-Clark and Emil Wolfgramm, and presentation of the Tusitala Award to the late John Kaimikaua, with his wife and hula halau in attendance
» Sunday: "Tales 'n' Tunes" with Nyla Ching-Fujii, Chung, Kapanui, Kelin, Lann-Clark and MacLees, with music by Les Adam and Bernice Hirai (also free storytelling workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. with Chung, Gere and Lann-Clark)
"On Friday we have Sandra MacLees, a lady from Volcano on the Big Island originally from Northern California. She's an elegant pro teller who will share the classic tale of Gawain and the Green Knight.
"Kathy Collins is a radio deejay from Maui, who I invited on a lark after hearing her on the island's popular Mana'o volunteer radio station. She's wildly popular there, and she recently sold out four nights at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Theatre. She's just a phenomenon. In person she's this demure Japanese lady who assumes this sassy tita character.
"Alton Chung is this local boy who ended up in Portland," returning for a fourth year and the only mainlander who's been featured more than once in the history of the festival. An Iolani School grad, Chung was the 2005 winner of the National Storytelling Network's J.J. Reneaux "Emerging Artist" award.
"Spooky stories are his specialty, and on Friday he'll share a Glen Grant Ouija-board story, 'The Sobbing Spirit of Punahou Street.' Sunday, he'll premiere an original work, 'Heroes,' his homage to the 442nd Japanese-American battalion. Both days he'll be accompanied by University of Hawaii professor emeritus and koto master Bernice Hirai. She's a nice ole lady, and God bless her for jumping into this thing.
"Lopaka (Kapanui) is Glen Grant's heir, with two books out and still doing the Oahu Ghost Tours, and he'll tell his chicken-skin stories. He's also a kumu hula, so he'll bring his dancers over to the pavilion on Sunday to show how hula is visual storytelling.
"Ed Chevy is just sensational as a deaf storyteller doing Edgar Allen Poe. Horrifying mime clarity with voice-over! Also doing spooky stories will be Daniel Kelin. He's told stories in the Marshall Islands over 12 summers, and he's always popular with the kids since he's so loud and uses big physical movements.
"SATURDAY NIGHT is for epics, and we'll be presenting the widow of John Kaimikaua his lifetime Tusitala Award. She'll also be telling two of his famous Molokai stories, with help from his halau. I expect tears will flow.
"Our headliner this year is Emil Wolfgramm, from Waiahole. Unlike the others, his Tongan Maui epic tale takes longer than a 20-minute set because his stories are so complicated. It's rare that he speaks to non-Polynesian audiences, but he is famous within the islander communities.
"Brenda Kwon is our very own elegant slam-poet lady. She's currently writing a novel, and she'll be doing 'Finding the Words,' about her return to her home country Korea on a Fulbright scholarship, and finding things there not what she originally expected.
"Erica Lann-Clark, from Santa Cruz, Calif., is our guest visitor this year. She's a little Jewish firecracker with bad knees and quick tongue. After decades of storytelling, her career bloomed this year after staging her show, 'Shopping for God,' a hilarious and touching mix of traditional and personal tales. Basically, her parents escaped the Nazis, she was raised in New York, migrated to California, got divorced and raised two kids as a single mother, and rediscovered her gift with stories. She's a kick!
"And on Sunday," Gere said, "Les Adam from Maui, famous for playing with Willie Nelson whenever the man is there, will improvise on piano behind four tellers, myself, Sandra MacLees, Erica Lann-Clark and Dan Kelin.
"It's a bouquet of tellers. A colorful variety pack."