Tales from the South at Arts Center of the Ozarks

Tales from the South March 16, 2014 Sunday at 6:00 pm Location: Arts Center of the Ozarks 214 S. Main Street Downtown Springdale

Starring Writers: Vicki Penny & Russell Gayer With Music By: Tyrannosaurus Chicken

“Tales from the South” is coming to the ACO! This unique, unrehearsed showcase of writers reading their stories is broadcast locally on KUAF on Sunday afternoons, and syndicated on World Radio Network.  Rich in language, detail and voice, the show’s literary moments are true stories told by the Southerners who lived them.  This traveling version brings host and executive producer Paula Morell to NWA for a truly Southern evening.  Local writers and their stories will be chosen for performance, accompanied by local musicians playing Southern blues/jazz, and topped off with a scrumptiously Southern Sunday Night Supper.  A one–of-a-kind way to celebrate our Southern heritage and talents.

Tickets include Sunday night supper: ACO Members $20 Public: $25 Story written by NWA Media writer & ACO Callboard Editor Becca Martin-Brown

Sharing Stories: ‘Tales From the South’ has everything but campfire

“Tales From the South” started with 10 stories Paula Morell’s friends sent her for a project about 10 years ago.

But her passion for storytelling goes back much, much further.

“I grew up in a family of storytellers, my grandfather and dad in particular, and I would hang out with them and listen for hours,” says Morell, who hosts the weekly “Tales From the South” events in Little Rock and the broadcasts on KUAR, the National Public Radio affiliate in Little Rock. “I’m a lot more introverted, so instead of telling stories, I started writing stories as early as 5 or 6 years old.

“I’m fascinated with stories and storytelling, heard or read, fiction or nonfiction,” she adds. “There’s an age-old connection that happens between the storyteller and his/her audience, and that’s where the magic is.”

For Morell, it was not enough just to create that connection at her Starving Artist Cafe in downtown Little Rock. She also wanted to take the show on the road, a decision which will bring “Tales From the South” to the Arts Center of the Ozarks at 6 p.m. March 16.

“I knew there were people who couldn’t travel to Little Rock to be on the show and, frankly, I love Arkansas and wanted to be able to go to different locations around the state,” Morell says. “So, starting in July 2013, we were accepted to be on the Arkansas Arts Council’s Arts on Tour roster, which enables nonprofits and schools to get a grant to bring us to them.”

In the second half of 2013, Morell says, “Tales From the South” came to Fayetteville and Eureka Springs, and in 2014 is scheduled to also visit Conway, Searcy and several other cities in the northern half of the state.

As it is done at the Starving Artist Cafe, “Tales From the South” at ACO will open with dinner — FROM WHERE — and then move on to music and readings by HOW MANY regional writers. Morell works with those she selects to make sure their work is in its best form for live telling — and sharing.

“I think that we have gravely limited our connections,” Morell says of life in the digital world. “Instead of sitting down and talking with each other, we are texting, Tweeting or sending little blurbs on social media. It’s not uncommon to see a table full of people having lunch together and not even looking at each other, but rather immersed in their devices.

“What is appealing about projects like ‘Tales’ is the universal aspect of storytelling,” she adds. “When we stop and connect with a person telling their own true story, whether it’s live in person or on the radio, we are connecting in a way that isn’t possible on today’s devices. Sharing our stories connects us to each other and ourselves in a way that is age-old and universal. I think as a society we have been missing this, and that’s why these kinds of projects are so popular.”

With local Southern writers reading their works, Southern musicians performing in between and a “simply scrumptious Southern Sunday night supper thrown in for good measure, it has the potential to be a really fun night,” says Kathi Blundell, ACO administrative director. “And it will be broadcast later on National Public Radio’s Little Rock affiliate and heard on KUAF in Northwest Arkansas.”

At ACO, Morell promises, audiences will see and hear storytellers who have “ an incredible amount of bravery” and, she hopes, that experience will open “a floodgate of memories/stories” for the audience.

“And I hope that they then share their stories, with the person sitting next to them, their family when they get back home, and/or their coworkers and neighbors later in the week,” she says. “Because that’s what it’s all about.”

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