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Storytelling isn't just for kids at this event

August event will showcase local talent for an adult audience

Goldstream News Gazette - Kristi Hoffman, WSAC, August 4, 2017

Storytelling isn't just for kids at this event
Lee Porteous will be one of the performers at The Art of Storytelling event later this month.

Most will equate storytelling with tales for children. However, a number of groups on Vancouver Island are challenging that impression.

When asked about public perception of storytelling, Lee Porteous, president of the Victoria Storytellers’ Guild explained, “People are puzzled, they know about storytelling for kids. But I, myself, don’t tell my stories for children. People don’t realize that there is adult storytelling too.”

On Aug. 10, the West Shore Arts Council presents The Art of Storytelling, an evening of stories and music, featuring presentations from members of the Victoria Storytellers’ Guild. Jennifer Ferris, Shirley Routliffe, Moira Walker, Dolores Stanley, and Lee Porteous will perform a variety of lighthearted stories for an adult audience, with musical accompaniment from Lara Oberg.

“Stories come from everywhere, just the way people do,” Porteous said. “Members from the group tell everything from personal narratives, to myths, and creative stories, and tales from different cultures. I myself have pulled stories from Australia, Iceland, and West Africa … Stories travel across cultures. You will hear a very similar plot in an Arab book of stories as you will in a Chinese book. People travel and bring their stories with them. We can hear ourselves in the stories of many other cultures — we laugh and we cry at a lot of the same things.”

The Victoria Storytellers’ Guild was formed 28 years ago, and has for many years, held 10 meetings annually at the Quakers’ Meeting Hall, 1831 Fern St. “When you think about 10 sessions a year for 28 years, that is a lot of stories,” said Porteous. The group is a member of the Storytellers of Canada, and Jennifer Ferris, one of the presenters at the Aug. 10 event, was previously president of the national organization.

“The Island is kind of a happening place for storytelling,” Porteous said proudly. In the coming months, the Victoria group will be hosting a number of touring tellers from across North America. With storytelling groups and programs established in Nanaimo and Parksville, and new events scheduled in Duncan, Vancouver Island is becoming more attractive to professional storytellers.

“The other thing I love about storytelling is that it is totally low tech,” Porteous explained. “It is not read, it’s told. So we tell our stories by heart. And somehow, it doesn’t come across in the same way if there’s intervening media. It’s a type of performance that really depends a lot on being there, to be able to see eye-to-eye with the storyteller,” she concluded.

The Art of Storytelling event will take place on Aug. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Victoria Conservatory of Music located in the YMCA building in Langford. The event is free, with a suggested donation of $10 at the door. Refreshments will also be provided. Register online at

For more information on the Victoria Storytellers’ Guild, go to


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