JOHNSON CITY (February 21, 2013) – When James Bond ventures into a conflict-riddled locale, is held at gunpoint and escapes with secrets, no one is surprised. But when a storyteller from Boston experiences similar adventures, it’s a tale worth telling.
Diane Edgecomb is known for her evocative adaptations of ancient myth accompanied by Celtic harp or zany tales of insects and other creatures of nature, but in 2001, she embarked on what she called “The Kurdish Story Collection Project,” an international endeavor to document the stories and storytelling traditions of the Kurdish people.
Beginning by recording Kurdish tellers in the United States, then abroad, Edgecomb made numerous trips to villages in the Kurdish region of Turkey, filming and archiving a large complement of tellers. The project resulted in the book, A Fire in My Heart: Kurdish Folktales, a collection of more than 150 Kurdish stories, fairy tales, legends and animal fables.
In her performance of “Forbidden Stories,” Edgecomb will bring her personal tales of Turkey and those she gathered from others to East Tennessee State University Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in ETSU’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium in the D.P. Culp University Center. “Forbidden Stories” is the second in a three-part Mary B. Martin School series called “When Worlds Collide.”
“Diane is a tremendously talented storyteller and a person whose passion has led her into some pretty astonishing cultures, that of the Turkish Kurds in particular, a persecuted minority in the Middle East,” says ETSU storytelling professor Dr. Joseph Sobol. “‘Forbidden Stories’ is a folklorist’s odyssey through some very dangerous political and geographic conditions that would make a lesser person shrink. In it, a real-life Indiana Jones meets contemporary folklore.”
The 2012-13 storytelling series evolved because of an idea Sobol shared with Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis.
“I think it’s really good for us to partner with ETSU faculty and to address some of their interests,” DeAngelis says. “Diane’s ‘Forbidden Stories’ is an important example of the arts reflecting on a culture not so familiar to us and hopefully will help us better understand that culture. We anticipate an insightful evening, but one that also will be a lot of fun.”
Sobol saw Edgecomb’s “Forbidden” performance at a National Storytelling Conference. “I was very impressed and moved by it and looked for an opportunity to bring it here,” he says, “so I am grateful to Anita and company for making that happen. It really fits in the series ‘When World Collide,’ which features different storytelling ventures, really risky efforts in cross-cultural endeavors, putting one’s whole self on the line for the sake of the truth behind the story.
“She was held at gunpoint a number of times by Turkish army occupied forces. It’s just very lucky she is still here to tell these stories.”
Edgecomb’s adventurous spirit extends to numerous projects. She is also an experimental theater artist, involved in “alternative theater” for more than 30 years. Recently she developed a solo work that, her website says, “stretches the boundaries of normal theater, relying on juxtapositions and images to tell the story as opposed to traditional narration.”
Whatever her vehicle, Publishers Weekly calls Edgecomb “a storyteller in the grand tradition … a virtuoso of the spoken word … an entire cast rolled into one.”
She is a three-time Storytelling World Honors award winner and she claimed the first National ORACLE award for storytelling excellence in the Northeast. She is also a regularly featured teller at storytelling and theater venues throughout the country, including the National Storytelling Festival and the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, where she was a Storyteller-in-Residence in 2012.
Edgecomb has been commissioned to create original stories for World Trade Center Boston's robotic dinosaur exhibit, and, because of her interest in nature, by the Mass Audubon Society to create an original storytelling piece to celebrate their centennial.
Tickets for “Forbidden Stories” on Feb. 28 at ETSU are $5 for all area students, $15 general admission and $10 for seniors 60 and over. College students need a valid student ID. Group discounts are available for general admission and senior tickets.
Additional information about Edgecomb is available at http://livingmyth.com. For information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, call (423) 439-TKTS (8587) or visit www.etsu.edu/cas/arts. Interested persons can also “Like” ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts on Facebook and “Follow” it on Twitter at TheArtsAtETSU.