SCHENECTADY: Tales to warm a winter evening

Days are getting colder and nights are getting longer. In olden days, that meant gathering around the fire for an evening of conversation and stories.

The past will be the present again on Sunday, Nov. 18, when the Story Circle's annual Tellabration takes place at the Whisperdome at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady.

Don't expect whispers, though; there are more likely to be shouts of laughter since this year's Tellabration theme is "Laughing Out Loud."

"Everyone needs a good laugh," said Kate Dudding, one of the producers of the local Tellabration. "Children laugh 20 times more each day than adults, and that's not right. We're offering good, clean humor that adults will enjoy."

Joe Doolittle is producing Tellabration with Dudding, and they will be joined by eight area storytellers.

"We try for a mix of storytellers," Dudding said.

A lot of the storytellers may already be familiar to Capital District audiences, since they gather one Sunday evening a month at the Glen Sanders Mansion for Story Sundays. Audiences enjoy a four-course dinner with storytelling.

At Tellabration, those storytellers will offer a combination of folk tales and their own personal stories.

"The storyteller knows stories that generations of people have told," Dudding said. "They had to mean something for all those stories to stay alive. There's comfort and wisdom, and that's part of it being a shared experience."

Doolittle expounded on the shared experience, especially just before Thanksgiving.

"It's a wonderful time of coming together before Thanksgiving," he said. "Stories provide the medium, and it's another shared joy."

"Everyone comes with a different frame of mind and different experiences," Dudding said. "People take away what they need."

Dudding said she gathers stories everywhere she goes.

"I've got some from my hairdresser," she said. "There's one about Eleanor Roosevelt, and one about a family coming to Ellis Island in 1912. I picked up two at Chicago's O'Hare airport. One I got from a display about women aviators you've never heard of. Wherever I go, I'm on the prowl."

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