“Every story I tell is true—except for the parts that I make up,” quips Donna Washington, who will make her first in-person appearance at the 2022 Timpanogos Storytelling Festival to be held in Lehi, Utah’s Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point, September 8-10.
Washington has told stories professionally for 34 years. “I do a lot of telling,” she said. Her TSF debut was originally slated for 2020, but due to the pandemic, her stories were enjoyed only online. Donna, as well as Festival audiences, are thrilled she’ll be with us this year!
“My favorite part of storytelling is when you develop an awareness of each other. It’s really hard to hate someone if you know their story because that’s what stories do, they allow you to stand in other people’s shoes.”
Donna went to Northwestern University to study theater, but at the end of the trimester she found herself enrolled in two graduate classes that included storytelling.
“Surprise!” she said. She ended up being mentored by a professional and has since become renowned for her storytelling to both children and adults, including stories that are poignant and funny to race relationships. She is also well known for her spine-tingling tales of terror.
“It’s the only job I’ve ever had and there are days when it feels like work!” She said, describing a time she was telling stories to students with one in the audience who wanted “to be lippy.” Once she invited him to be “Heckedy Peg” in her story, he became a friend and a part of the story.
“I’m looking forward to seeing people,” [following the pandemic] she said. “It’s like coming home. I’ve been missing live audiences.”
In her storytelling career, Washington has been featured at numerous festivals, schools, libraries, theaters, and other venues around the world including Canada, Peru, Argentina, and Hong Kong.
During the pandemic, she presented over two hundred virtual shows and workshops and co-founded the non-profit organization Artists Standing Strong Together with Master Storyteller Sheila Arnold.
Donna’s eleven storytelling CDs have garnered 30 national awards and she has written numerous articles about storytelling and education, including her popular blog, Language, Literacy and Storytelling. She has published four children’s books, with her fifth to be released in September 2023. Her first adult book, “The Men of Kent Street,” is to be published later this year, focusing on the suppression of black Americans, voting laws, and white riots.
Donna resides in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and two cats.