KSU Tellers Spin Fabulous Tales

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Short-form theatrical entertainment as varied as its performers    Several times a year,…

Georgia (Mar 5, 2014)

Short-form theatrical entertainment as varied as its performers 

 

Several times a year, the KSU Tellers, a highly motivated group of undergraduate Kennesaw State theater performers gather on a barren stage to act out stories, fables and otherwise interesting life moments to appreciative audiences.

Dressed in black and white with a splash of color, they take the spotlight in solo roles armed with minimal props, if any.

Sometimes the stories are funny, sometimes deeply personal and sometimes bordering on the bizarre. But one thing the KSU Tellers troupe always does is tell entertaining stories.

“We have an elite group of students who think outside the box. They’ve got to be game to play,” explained Charles Parrott, the group’s director and assistant professor of theatre and performance studies.

Consider how Hanna Sims from Blue Ridge chose to interpret the folklore story of lumberjack extraordinaire Paul Bunyan.

Sims, an extroverted theatre major, donned a pair of 5-inch heels and wore bright blue tights to tell the tale, speaking as Bunyan’s animal companion, “Babe the Blue Ox.”

“The biggest thing for me is the writing of the script,” she said. “When you’re doing the story on stage, you can feel a vibe from the audience, and it’s a great thing!” 

The students write and produce their own pieces, usually performing individually on the stage, but sometimes with one or two other performers.

Early in his college career, trouper Kyle Eglehoff, originally from Orange County, Calif., thought he wanted to become a chemist. Introspective and intelligent, when he found the Tellers he discovered his love for theater and changed his major.

“The first story I wrote was funny, but everyone else said it was sad,” he said with a touch of sarcasm.  “It was about friendship dynamics and the role of the backseat friend, who’s constantly reminding the people in the front seat that ‘Hey guys, I’m back here. Hello?’ What I like best is that you don’t have to be funny.”

Maged Roushdi, a senior, has appeared in several theatrical productions at KSU, most recently starring as the tough, but tenderhearted sheriff in “Bus Stop.” Roushdi was born in Egypt and served in the U.S. Air Force before entering KSU.

He likens performing with the Tellers’ to the adrenaline thrill of working without a net. “It’s like working out your panic muscle. I love being able to tell a story and paint a picture without props or scenery,” Roushdi said.  

Fellow trouper Lauren Robinson from Johns Creek was comfortable working behind the scenes on the more technical aspects of theater, involving such things as lighting and set design and construction.

“I’m the type of person who likes to entertain people, but as myself, not as a specific character,” Robinson said. “What I like best is that this group offers me a very supportive environment to try new things.”

During the previous semester the Tellers made several visits to the Global Village Project, a school for refugee girls in Decatur.

“We taught storytelling basics to the girls as part of their literacy class,” said Parrott. “A group of four or five Tellers created a lesson plan for each visit. Each lesson focused on a different part of storytelling.”

In the meantime, the troupe has been creating an ensemble performance that examines the experience of teaching storytelling to refugees.

“We're looking for national-level academic conferences to present the performance. We have also received a CARET grant from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at KSU to support our work with this project,” Parrott explained. “This semester we took an early version of the ensemble performance to the Patti Pace Performance Festival at Georgia Regents University.”

The troupe’s next scheduled performance will be April 5 at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center's "Do Tell" storytelling festival, where it will open for nationally renowned storyteller Donald Davis and conduct performances in the community. The KSU Tellers Showcase will run April 22-23 in KSU’s Onyx Theater.

“We've also been accepted to participate in the Atlanta Fringe Festival, June 5-8,” Parrott added. “We'll be doing a show called "The Unbelievable True Story" – a collection of solo-performances based on true events.

-- By Robert S. Godlewski

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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