Supporting the art of storytelling throughout Ohio.
Octavia grew up in the Appalachian tradition of storytelling and her stories are rooted in the fascinating history of her family. Her English/Irish ancestors migrated to Kentucky from Europe - bringing their stories with them. Her maternal and paternal great grandmothers were Cherokee storytellers from North Carolina. Octavia's stories reflect the melding of these culturally different oral traditions. She shares the legends, tales and superstitions from her distinctive oral heritage in a delightfully exuberant performance. Her natural dialect transports the listener into the mountains of eastern Kentucky where haints ‘ghosts’ chill your blood, Jack tickles your funny bone, and the hills and hollers are full of surprises.
With a degree in history and English education and years of teaching and writing experience, Octavia has the tools to present and teach an appreciation for Kentucky heritage as well as for individual stories. She has performed across the nation and presented educational art programs to thousands of learners. Her performance venues include hundreds of schools and festivals - as well as television and radio programs.
Jack Tales have been with us for about 800 years. These stories came to the Appalachian Mountains from the British Isles when the Europeans began to settle here. They are about a character named Jack who has amusingly fantastic adventure. The stories have changed through the years to reflect the environment and cultural traditions that emerged among the mountain people. Appropriate for any age, these stories take the listener into Jack’s world of fantastic adventures where the impossible is possible and Jack always prevails. Jack tales are akin to epic stories and have connections to the Odyssey. A traditional Jack tale will require 15 to 30 minutes to tell. Shortened versions are 10 to 12 minutes.
Haint tales are scary stories. Haint is a dialect word derived from haunted. Many of the scary stories I tell are stories that passed to me through my ancestors. They reflect the influence of European, African and Native American telling. Several are my own creations. The average time to spin a good Haint tale is 10 to 25 minutes.
I tell folktales I learned while growing up in the hills of Appalachia. Like the Jack Tales, these stories passed along orally from generation to generation. They take place in distant times and kingdoms and lead the listener through a maze of amusing and amazing adventures. They include Kings and Queens, fairies and goblins, witches and giants, talking animals and magic. Five to 25 minutes per story.
GROWING UP COUNTRY
Growing up in poverty within the Appalachian Mountains, combined with my unique life experiences, I have created a compendium of stories ranging from the poignant to the hilarious. These stories range from three to 15 minutes in the telling.
The Cherokee developed their stories over thousands of years and passed them orally from generation to generation. They chose special persons in special lineages to pass on their oral traditions. Great care was taken to maintain the purity of such traditions. My Cherokee great-grandmothers became part of a ‘white man’s’ world outside of the tradition they were born into and the stories passed from them are outside that lineage. The stories I tell are versions of some of the legends with which they were familiar. They are stories that teach respect and reverence for the seen and unseen worlds. Average telling time per story is 5 to 10 minutes.