February 2, 1996 in City

Storytellers Bring The World To Spangle Spokane Duo Shares Myths, Folklore From Other Countries

Putsata Reang Staff writer

In the school gym, the kids looked on with amazement - five bleacher rows full of little faces beaming at the center of the basketball court. The students didn’t come for tipoff. Or to play indoor soccer. They just came to listen.

It was story time Thursday at Liberty Junior High and Elementary School in Spangle, and the entire student body of about 500 turned out for a morning of funny fables from “Tellers Two” - a Spokane storytelling duo that performs at libraries, schools, bookstores and other such places.

At a time when many schools place a strong emphasis on multicultural education, “Tellers Two” has created a unique market.

For two years, founder Eric Hurtt and his show partner, Kyrsten Lee, have brought kids in Eastern Washington and North Idaho entertaining folk tales from afar - from really, really far. Like Turkey, Ireland, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, and parts of Africa and Asia.

“With the stories that we tell, we want to introduce them to different cultures,” said Hurtt, sitting on a stool in the gym - the only props the pair uses.

Hurtt and Lee, both Whitworth College graduates who met in a theater class, wanted to try something new and challenging. The pair have training in storytelling and chamber theater.

Both have part-time jobs but eventually would like to perform their acts full time. They’ve done 45 performances since their first show in September 1994.

They often perform their multicultural program “From Every Tribe and Tongue” - a series of myths, fables, and folklore from various countries.

At Liberty, they performed a story about pride, and how pride can be divisive. It’s also a tale of how all the languages of the world got started.

Students got their daily dose of laughter during the performances, and many waltzed out of the gym mimicking the characters.

Sarah Crump, 12, liked the accents Hurtt and Lee used. She especially liked the Irish accents used during a story about a boy who didn’t have stories to tell, and the Spanish accents used in a story from Puerto Rico about a couple whose farm is saved by an ant.

In Ron Boe’s third-grade class, students talked about highlights after the program.

“I liked how they acted it out,” said Ben Masters, 8. “They made you feel like you’re really there,” in another country.

Boe said his class recently finished a program on diversity, and the stories are a great supplement.

“A lot of times we get so wrapped up in our own culture,” said Boe. He said he liked the performance because it gave exposure to his students on cultures they may not have known existed.

For some students, the show was a learning experience.

“I learned that different countries have different languages,” said 8-year-old Heidi Olson, adding, “Diversity is better than being the same.”

For the administrators, the duo was welcomed with enthusiasm.

“In a community like ours, the more multicultural experiences we can bring to the kids, the better,” said Principal Lori Johnson.

Hurtt and Lee say rural schools often provide an opportunity for the stories to have more of an impact.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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