At a time when the most common forms of entertainment come divided into discrete images, packaged in bursts of electrons, and squeezed between commercials, there is something very comforting about listening to a live human being, alone on a stage, without props, makeup, or smoke machines, and telling an interesting story well. It was this simplicity that first attracted me to local storytellers like Nancy Donoval and Supe O’Halloran, both of whom have mastered the Irish art of telling stories that are at once sad and funny. Donoval’s reminiscences about her dead father are particularly haunting. Even as she beguiles us with hundreds of charming details, such as her father’s oft-repeated joke that all movies have the same ending–“They all died and went to heaven”–Donoval is only preparing her audience for that sudden turn when she reveals the details of her own father’s death and cuts us to the bone with life’s cruel ironies. Donoval and O’Halloran are but 2 of 14 storytellers participating in the three-day-long Wild Onion Storytelling Celebration. Some of the storytellers in the festival will perform autobiographical works, while others will tell more traditional folktales. Donna Washington and Osunrete Adesanya-Kerr, for example, will perform Ashanti and Yoruba tales. In addition there will be storytelling workshops both Saturday and Sunday morning. North Shore Country Day School, 310 Green Bay, Winnetka, 708-869-0807. Performances Friday through Sunday, February 5 through 7, on the following schedule. Friday, 7:30 PM “Stories for Families” in the Diller Street Theatre); $7, $4 for children. Saturday, noon to 5 PM (“Stories for All Ages,” a series of performances); $7, $4 for children. Saturday, 8 PM (“Evening of Stories for Adults” in the Diller Street Theatre); $7. Sunday, 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM (“Stories of Fall Ages,” a series of performances); $7, $4 for children. Adult weekend pass to all performances, $25. Call 708-869-0807 for information about related workshops (additional fees charged).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Suzanne Plunkett.