Then came the big guns: featured act Elizabeth Ellis, all the way from Texas. I don't know what I expected in a "featured storyteller" maybe someone flashy and wordy and clever, all dressed up. But Ellis, a plump, grandmotherly type in ordinary clothes, ambled up to the lectern and simply spoke. It was a breathtaking performance to witness like a neurosurgeon at work and yet so sweetly workaday. First, she told about getting lost in a big Texas city and getting a flat tire. Characters appeared, flared briefly, and faded away the haughty, dismissive staff of a megabucks evangelical organization where she sought help, a homeless man on the street. It was so layered and magical and real, her timing impeccable, her delivery effortless and casual, her impact extraordinary. She wrapped up her set with a story about Wal-Mart and roses.
It's been a year, I took no notes, and yet I remember so much about that night and about the time Aunt Margaret fell into the Connecticut River and floated for miles before she was rescued, still clutching her purse. And the time Cousin Dave caught that weird fish. . . .
Tellabration returns to Genesis on Saturday, November 10, with a kids show at the Pittsfield Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library the next day.
[Review published November 2007]