Storytellers grace Arizona stages

The fine folks at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe tell me I’ll have to wait a few more weeks before reading the never-before-released autobiography (or at least the first volume) from one of my favorite storytellers — Mark Twain.

But Valley fans of the fine art of storytelling will be enjoying two contemporary storytellers during the next several days as John Lithgow and Bill Harley hit Valley venues.

John Lithgow performs in Scottsdale Thursday and Friday night

Renaissance man John Lithgow, veteran artist of many mediums — from theater, film and television to writing and musical performance — shares “Stories by Heart” for two nights at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Lithgow considers storytelling “the unacknowledged tie that binds humanity.” “Stories by Heart” takes place Thurs, Oct 21, at 7:30pm and Fri, Oct 22, at 8pm. Go. Relish. Acknowledge.

You may not think of yourself as an aficionado of the art of storytelling, but consider for a moment that storytelling is all around us. Ads. Tweets. Musical theater. News. All variations on storytelling, for better or worse.

Bill Harley performs songs and stories “portraying contemporary American life with a slight off-center bent” at the Musical Instrument Museum on Sun, Oct 24, at 2pm.

Bill Harley performs in Phoenix Sunday

The musician, storyteller, author and playwright will share family-friendly fare with audiences at the MIM’s Music Theater — which routinely features performances by musicians from around the globe.

I spoke by phone with Harley not too long ago, and will share a bit of our conversation in a future post.

Harley’s recent works include a book titled “Between Home and School” (available Nov 1) and a CD titled “The Best Candy in the Whole World.”

We aren’t only listeners. We’re storytellers too. Especially in the words we share with our children each and ever day.

I’d like to get better at it. I’d like to feel part of the larger storytelling community. I think time spent with Lithgow and Harley will jump-start my journey.

How about you?

–Lynn

Note: Local resources for storytelling and creative writing include the Storytelling Institute at South Mountain Community College and the ASU Young Writers Program,

Coming up: Upcoming Arizona premieres, Getting to know Tetra Quartet, Local First and the arts

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