The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

April 22, 2012

MSU storytellers to regale public at free event

A group of Mountain State University theater students known as the “Fantastic Few” spin colorful yarns — some of them funny and some of them serious, most of them outlandish and a few of them perhaps even true.

The group, formed from MSU faculty member Marina Hunley-Graham’s Introduction to Theatre class, will put their storytelling reputations to the test at 7 p.m. April 30 when they present “Truth and Beyond” at the John W. Eye Conference Center. The event is free and open to the public.

These storytellers and wanna-be actors weave incredible tales from their past, from their future, and from their imaginations.

Featured tellers include Sue Atkinson, who specializes in telling stories from real life. Always an avid reader and a dreamer, Atkinson grew up in small-town Georgia. Her family would sit at the supper table long after dessert to talk about the day. Her dad made his work day sound like so much fun, and he would laugh until tears rolled down his face. That was when Sue discovered a love of stories.

A former leader and trainer with the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, she practiced her storytelling craft as a Sunday school teacher, at 4-H camps and church gatherings. Retirement in 2004 hasn’t slowed her down one bit.

Richard Barber and Fred Powers tell stories ripped straight from their experiences as coal miners under these West Virginia hills. Barber spent nearly a decade at U.S. Steel Mining Co. in Gary, then taught school for 24 years in McDowell and Monroe counties.

Coal mining’s challenges, adventures and dangers form the foundation of his personal and occupational history, and storytelling affords him the freedom to remove the media sugar-coating and tell it like it is — the unvarnished truth.

Powers, also a retired coal miner, offers realistic depictions of life in the mines: eating in the ole dinner hole; giving the rats fantastic names; and making sure his canary stayed alive — because if the bird died, so might he. Powers makes his presentations in the working attire of the miner and from the perspective of the dinner hole, where miners took their only break of the shift.

Leon Swafford joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Mount Hope High School. His travels to Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Fallujah, Iraq, offer an abundant supply of epi-sodes and anecdotes, both serious and humorous. Back in the states, he has called San Antonio and Charleston home, before finally settling down in Beckley.

Danny McMillion, a retired librarian, has been telling stories since her youngest son, Patrick, innocently asked one day, “Mommie, how old are you?”

What followed was a tall tale about how Danny was so old that she had a pet brontosaurus (“Bronty,” of course) to play with while she grew up. Patrick and brother Brent heard many stories of antediluvian romps through prehistoric swamps. Danny likes to stretch the truth well past the unbelievable, and she’ll mix in a few scary stories just to change the pace.

Text Only
Local News
  • derby dames Beckley area Derby Dames to host WFTDA team Aug. 9

    The Beckley Area Derby Dames will face off against a WFTDA-certified team, the Harrisonburg, Va., Rocktown Rollers, Aug. 9 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • phil roop Artisans show off skills at String Band Festival

    The Appalachian String Band Festival celebrates the music of the mountains each year.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Calendar — Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

    August 1, 2014

  • VA clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    August 1, 2014

  • Beckley festival seeking vendors

    Taste of Appalachia is seeking restaurants, vendors, organizations and churches to participate in the Aug. 23 event. 

    August 1, 2014

  • 080114 FRI TWV multitalented teen.jpg Only 13, Shady Spring and TWV teen has big resume

    Well-rounded is an understatement for 13-year-old Rachel McNeel. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 080114 ST.FrancisTeens.jpg Rummage sale to help teens attend WYD

    Young people at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church will be sponsoring a rummage sale at the church today and Saturday. The sale will help raise money to send the young folks to World Youth Day in Poland to meet Pope Francis.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tamarack lists weekend events

    Tamarack Events Director Kelly Elkins invites everyone to pay a visit to the Best of West Virginia this weekend for free music, a farmer’s market and live artisan demonstrations. 

    August 1, 2014

  • New River CTC celebrates move to new campus

    New River Community and Technical College personnel greeted new neighbors Thursday with cookies and lemonade as furniture was moved into their institution’s new Mercer Street campus in the former First Community Bank building.

    August 1, 2014

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander. Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoys."

    July 31, 2014