Antonio Rocha – On Timeless Tales

Antonio Rocha – On Timeless Tales

We recently interviewed Antonio Rocha (pronounced Haw-sha) and he gave us his thoughts on the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, advice for new storytellers and the timelessness of storytelling.

Q- As you well know, this is our 30th anniversary and we’re so happy you will be celebrating this milestone with us. As a veteran of the festival would you please share some of your memories of the festival?

A- I have many wonderful memories of being at Timpanogos: the setting, the people all creating an awesome Festival atmosphere. As one of the Nation’s top festivals with incredibly dedicated listeners and staff, Timpanogos delivers a setting where I can relax to do my work for I know I will be well taken care of. I have also a great memory of resting between sets in the green room and getting a revitalizing massage. Timpanogos is the only festival to offer massages in the green room. What a great treat! I understand it’s not offered anymore, but it was a great memory. With all these amazing qualities, it is hard not have have great memories.

Q- What is one piece of advice you could give our young tellers or anyone who would like to share their stories?

A- Storytelling is not about words, it is about the images the story creates in your imagination. So, the more immersed you are in the imagery world of your story, be it fictional or not, the better will be your telling. Dive deep into the imaginary and you will never be lost for words and enthusiasm to tell about it.

Q- Our theme this year is Timeless Tales. In what way do you think storytelling is timeless or timely?
Storytelling is timeless because we are the only species on Earth who use story. They have been our companions, teachers and care givers for millennia.

A- Storytelling is timely because we, as a species, tend to spend too much time forgetting what being human is all about. Stories remind us of our humanity. Storytelling is the new fire we sit around of in order to keep us warm.

Join us on September 5-7, 2019 at The Gardens at Thanksgiving Point for the 30th Anniversary of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Ticket prices increase August 1st, so get your today!

Tim Lowry – Timeless Tales and our 30th Anniversary

Tim Lowry – Timeless Tales and our 30th Anniversary

Our theme this year is Timeless Tales, a perfect theme for our 30th year don’t you think? For thirty years we have been celebrating the timeless tradition of storytelling and the timeless stories that transcend the generations. As part of this celebration we have asked our returning veteran tellers to give us some thoughts on the theme and on what the Festival means to them. We’ll begin our series with Tim Lowry.

Q- As you well know, this is our 30th anniversary and we’re so happy you will be celebrating this milestone with us. As a veteran of the Festival would you please share with us some of your memories of the Festival?

A- Of all the festivals in which I’ve been privileged to tell, Timpanogos best fulfills the promise of a “family event.” I love the wide mix of age groups that you see in the audience and on the stage. You have young children listening as older children tell; teenagers and college students telling. There’s juggling, and playing music, and presenting puppet plays; parents and grandparents cheering the young folks and also sharing stories. Everyone is involved in every way!

Q- What is one piece of advice you could give our young tellers or anyone who would like to share their stories?

A- I like to think of stories as wonderful treasures or marvelous discoveries that are best shared with others. Whether you sing, speak, or dance, generosity of spirit is essential to good storytelling. Love the story enough to treasure it, love your audience enough to share your treasure with them. Don’t worry about yourself—Will my voice shake? Will I mess up? Will they like me? Just love your story and love the people who have come to listen. Storytelling is an act of love!

Q- Our theme this year is Timeless Tales. In what way do you think storytelling is timeless or timely?

A- Timeless Tales! Oh, that makes me think of so many classics—Moses’s Pentateuch, the four New Testament Gospels, Arabian Nights, The Brothers Grimm, the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, Aesop’s Fables, Mother Goose, Robin Hood Legends, Stories from Dickens and Twain, the Greek myths, Norse legends, and Cinderella. We mustn’t forget Cinderella! So many stories! So many voices! And yet one message—See! Hear! Wonder! (I’ll try to come back down to earth in time for the 30th annual Festival!)

Join us September 5-7, 2019 for the 30th Anniversary of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival at The Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point.

Daniel Morden Q&A

Daniel Morden Q&A

Daniel Morden respects the power of a great story, stories that have stood the test of time, sifted through generations of tellers until the words and message have been polished smooth. When I listen to his Welsh accent carefully crafting tales I fall in love with words all over again. From Greek and Celtic myths to Jack stories to Welsh folktales, Daniel explores it all. He lights up dark places so we can peer into the corners.


Get to know him a little better by reading his answers to our five questions.


1. At TimpFest we are very family oriented, will you tell us a little about your family?


I live in Wales with my wife Marion and our two sons, Benjamin (11) and Joseph (9). The boys are both soccer mad. As long as they have a patch of grass where they can kick a ball, they are happy. We have a story club in our home, where adults and children share traditional stories. My eldest son won a contest for his storytelling last year. The boys love festivals. Ben likes discovering new acts. Joe likes discovering new food!


2. If you weren’t a professional storyteller, what would you be doing instead?


Probably a teacher. As my sons grow up, I realise what an important and rewarding job it is. Their teachers have had an enormous influence on them.3. Do you get nervous when you tell stories on stage? If so, what do you do to overcome your fear? If not, what is the key to your fearlessness? I get nervous, particularly in front of thousands of people. What do I do? – I trust the stories. I am just a conduit for a tale that has charmed, chilled, or thrilled audiences for hundreds-sometimes thousands- of years. If I can get out of my own way then the story will work its magic. And just before I go onstage I think of the most inspired teller I ever saw, Brother Blue. He was an extraordinary performer, consumed by delight in words and ideas. I remember his passion and try to copy it.


3. Do you get nervous when you tell stories on stage? If so, what do you do to overcome your fear? If not, what is the key to your fearlessness?


I get nervous, particularly in front of thousands of people. What do I do?- I trust the stories. I am just a conduit for a tale that has charmed, chilled or thrilled audiences for hundreds-sometimes thousands-of years. If I can get out of my own way then the story will work its magic.


4. What is the most embarrassing thing that you have done or has happened to you on stage?

I got the hiccups once….’Once upon a (hic) time….’


And a bonus question: How did you get your start in storytelling?


My Dad read to me and my brother when we were children. I remember him sitting at the end of my bed, I remember the sound of his voice. His words became pictures in my head. We went to Middle Earth, the wild west, Asgard, WW2 Poland: many extraordinary places. A wardrobe wasn’t the portal that took me to Narnia, or a beanstalk to the land of a giant. It was a voice. Every time I tell a story I am attempting to reproduce that experience for the audience. To give them what I had.


You can catch Daniel at the 2018 Timpanogos Storytelling Festival on September 6-8 (that’s next weekend!) at the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. Utah. For tickets, click here

Listen to a podcast of Daniel Morden at a telling at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough at



Getting to Know Charlotte Blake Alston

Getting to Know Charlotte Blake Alston

One of Timpanogos’ favorite storytellers, Charlotte Blake Alston has a wonderful way of weaving stories that allow listeners of all ages to see themselves and the world around them in new and vital ways. With wisdom, wit, and frequently music, Charlotte’s stories are guaranteed to enchant and entertain.


  1. What is the first story you remember hearing and/or the first story you remember telling?


What sticks in my memory is the voice of Miss Alexander (later, Mrs. Mitchell) my 2nd grade teacher reading Br’er Rabbit stories. She would tell us, “If you get all your work done, I’ll read you a story.” We got aaalll our work done fast! She had a big oversized book of tales. She would pull out her teacher’s chair, open that big book and transport us to the world of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, Br’er Fox, Sis’ Coon and the crew. The first oral presentation I gave as a 6 year-old was a poem by African American poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar and a comedic monologue my father wrote for me to learn and deliver. Later, as an adult – teaching kindergarten at the time – the first story I told was the Ashanti story Who’s in Rabbit’s House. My students presented it as a skit in an assembly program.


  1. How was the seed of storytelling planted in your life?

The seed of storytelling was planted by my Dad. My mother was a musician. She was the organist – pipe organ – at our church. She accompanied choirs, soloists, played for funerals, weddings and social events in the community. My dad had NO musical talent but was gifted with words. As a child, I would sit quietly near him when he was trying to find time to write in a private space away from his 5 kids! I loved being around my dad. Eventually he began reading out loud to me some of what he was reading or writing. Then he gave me the complete poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar and selected poems for me to read. I read them over and over and quickly memorized several. I think when he saw how good my memory was, a light bulb went on in his head and he started writing monologues for me to learn and ‘recite’ as well. Much later, as an adult and while I was still a classroom teacher, I learned of a newly formed storytelling guild in Philadelphia. Patchwork was formed in the late 70’s. I went to a storytelling event they sponsored. I heard the first storyteller and my heart was Home!


  1. Where does storytelling grow from here? How do you want see storytelling influencing society?

I believe storytelling allows us to see each other – not as Democrat, Republican, Protestant, Baha’i,’ethnic minorities’ or ‘ethnic majorities – but as people; fellow humans all on the same planet, on the same human journey with far more common human experience than uncommon. Storytelling allows you to see a reflection of yourself, of your humanity – through the stories we share. Stories are manifestations of the compilation of human experience throughout our existence on the planet. Embodied within them are distillations of the range of human experience and wisdom gained through the ages – wisdom that still speaks to us today. Despite the all-pervading presence of digital communication devices, I believe as long as human beings exist and can speak, they will tell stories – whether it is the five-year-old at the dinner table sharing her school day, the minister bringing to life a sacred teaching, a patient educating a physician through her personal health narrative, the family elder recounting family history and genealogy at a family reunion, or the lawyer advocating for his client, storytelling with always be with us and will always serve as a medium for substantive and meaningful reflection. It is my hope that the gathering together of ‘the village’ to hear and share OUR human stories will continue in both formal and informal ways in communities across the country.


  1. If you needed to start a dance party, what song would you lead with?


I’m a child of the sixties so the first song that comes to mind from my house party days is Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas. It still gets my friends and me on our feet for a bit of a Twist dance revival! Also, almost anything by the ‘Godfather of Soul’ – James Brown! Otherwise, just about anything from Motown artists” The Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Junior Walker and the All Stars… Let’s Party!!


Be sure to catch Charlotte Blake Alston during this year’s Festival. For more information visit


Charlotte closes her emails with these powerful words that we thought would be an appropriate ending here as well: Words have power – use them thoughtfully.

505x218 Charlotte Blake Alston

Festival Etiquette

Festival Etiquette

“Life be not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Festival etiquette:Timpchat - etiquette

– If you think you will need to leave during a performance, sit near the back and wait for a break between storytellers to avoid disturbing those around you.

– Please follow the directions of the tent hosts.

– Turn off your cell phone, even a vibrating phone can disturb a performer.

– Please arrive in plenty of time for a performance. Any saved seats are up-for-grabs ten minutes before a performance begins.

– Please remember that our performances are spoken word performances. Talking loudly or making sounds near the performance tents disturbs the performers and audiences.

– Recording and photography are not permitted during performances.

Festival Reflections: Lies, Laughs, and Life

Festival Reflections: Lies, Laughs, and Life

Timpchat - festival 2015Another storytelling festival has come to an end, and we’re left to share the stories, laughs and lessons with our family and friends. Stories offer many takeaways if you’re looking for them.  Below are just a few mixed in with the lies, laughs and life lessons.Timpchat - festival 2015 4

Stories Unite Us

Storytellers have a special gift of speaking to what we all have in common via their own experience, true or otherwise. Aspen Gashler, who started storytelling when she was three, was a special presenter for Utah’s Biggest Liars (contest held around April Fool’s Day). Her tall tale of convincing her little brother to get into the birthday cake because her mother had told her not to speaks to everyone who has had a forbidden escapade with a sibling.

Storytelling Transcends Time

Tim Lowry, dressed as a 18th century colonist, shared the story of the Battle of Sullivan’s island. The battle, which really did occur June 28, 1776, pitted Colonel William Moultrie and his partially completed fort against the British navy. Whether the British Admiral truly flipped his coat tails up at the colonists resulting in his pants being shot off will remain a mystery left to history.

Family Matters

Many tellers are inspired by their families. Antonio Sacre shares hilarious tales from both his Cuban and Boston sides of his family. Donald Davis reminded us that the one family member in charge of bad ideas (you know who they are) is an excellent source of wisdom if his or her stories are shared. Shonaleigh, who was amazed at the giant crowd gathered for laughin’ night (In England you tell a story and you’re lucky if two dogs, a whippet and a pigeon show up.) shared what women look for in a man. “I married you for a thousand unfathomable reasons, and that’s why I love you.”

Stories Hold Life’s Greatest Lessons

Many jewels of wisdom were shared throughout the festival. Here’s just a few:

  • The dictionary is the place for answers- Antonio Sacre
  • A promise is a promise – Ed Stivender
  • If you learn something, that’s better than punishment- Donald Davis
  • All of the museums were left open during the war, and when Winston Churchill was asked why, he said, “That’s our culture. That is what we are fighting for!” – Pippa White
  • When you have dug yourself a hole and jumped in it, I just want you to remember, love conquers all. – Bill Harl004Timpchat - festival 2015 2ey

A special thanks to all who attended and volunteered! See you again next year!


To hear a Gullah storyteller, check out this YouTube video.

The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Tales as shared by Jim May is available here.

See Bongo Java’s Nun Bun here and Kate Campbell’s Jesus and Tomatoes Comin’ Soon here.

Timpanogos Storytelling Institute
5107 Edgewood Drive
Provo, UT 84604

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