To be provided by Barbara plus header image and quote from Pisgah
Barbara and Connie Regan-Blake co-wrote, produced, and starred in Asheville’s longest running theatrical production. (1986-1992)
Meet two women who are in one of the world’s oldest professions – storytelling.
By Marie Bartlett
It’s a summer night in Philadelphia, and some 20,000 people are seated on quilts or blankets before a large outdoor stage on which two women are standing. A hush falls over the crowd as one of the women steps up to a microphone and, in a low, melodic voice, says, “I’d like to tell you a story . . . “
Once upon a time, nearly 20 years ago, two cousins from the South got in a truck and drove all over the United States telling stories to audiences who had forgotten or never knew the age-old storytellers’ art of talking to the heart and leaving imprints on the soul.
The Folktellers® Connie Regan-Blake and Barbara Freeman, knew they were happiest telling stories when, in 1975, they left their jobs at the Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee, pooled their resources to come up with $2,000 between them plus a pick-up truck with a camper named ‘D’Put,’ and set off to ‘live the life of storytellers.” What they didn’t know was that they would be trailblazers in the amazing storytelling Renaissance that has since swept across America.
RARELY does life give one an opportunity to disprove the truth of Thomas Wolfe’s tenet that you can’t go home again. But sometimes it does-and when it does, that experience can be memorable, even extraordinary. My return visit after ten years to interview the internationally-acclaimed FOLKTELLERS®, Barbara Freeman and Connie Regan-Blake of Asheville, North Carolina – coincidentally, Wolfe’s hometown-was just such an experience.
“…The storytellers’ art is an ancient one, passed from old tongue to young mind, from the fountainhead of culture and history… ”
Once,” says Barbara Freeman, face all alight with sun and wonder, driving through the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a spring day in 1980, “long ago” – and so stories have always begun, invoking a fundamental lore deeper than any record, a mystery more profound and subtle than any that could be captured by the relatively crude mechanics of written and dated history – “there were two brothers… Now, this is a true story…”
The Folktellers invite the audience to join them “Where the Wild Things Are”
My first close encounter with Barbara Freeman was in 1973 when I visited the Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee in search of a feature story for the Roadrunner’s Report, a library service department newsletter which I produced for J. B. Lippincott. Speaking to her was an experience. I knew at once that I was in the presence of a new kind of solar energy. Listening to her nonstop, mile-a-minute conversation was like standing next to a grindstone and watching the sparks pop off in all directions. Her sparks were ideas and they were generated by her desire to make children aware of the power of books.