RB60: Masquerade

“Masquerade” at Sandy Creek Park was a remarkable, transcendent night of stories. Under the starry sky, surrounded by the sounds of the forest, we heard from storytellers sharing their unique, authentic, hilarious and charming selves. John Rogers was our mellow Master of Ceremonies. Storytellers wore masks and costumes and brought along some props to share with us their interpretation of a “masquerade.” The storytellers were: David Bothe, Nico Isaac, Jennifer Bray, Laura Rupers, Cricket Bancroft, Neal Priest, Tommy Tye and Donna Fee Smith.

Jennifer Bray (aka Long Tall Jenny) brought her inner (and outer) clown to the stage. After an eventful year of big changes and growth, she shared some insight about her ongoing journey of discovering “what she wants to be when she grows up.”

Nico Isaac stopped into a general store in Atlanta one day to pick up some cleaning supplies. The man at the cash register showed her something that would leave her forever changed. “Some people wear masks that are obvious,” she observed of the experience, “while others’ masks blend in so seamlessly that you don’t notice them until it’s too late.”

Laura Rupers’ sister sometimes struggled, and Laura would help take care of her three nieces whenever called upon. In order to make the girls laugh and forget their worries, she developed a hilarious hillbilly character who would read books to them. The outsized character raised everyone’s spirits so much that Laura found herself compelled to bring the character back for a potentially inappropriate appearance at an emotionally charged, family gathering.

Tommy Tye‘s wild intelligence began by communicating with dogs, then birds and other animals — even trees. Listening carefully to the wild animals he’s gotten to see things most people don’t ever experience. His mom was sure that by the time he was 18 he’d either be in jail or dead. He avoided both by tuning into a wild, true voice inside.

The evening’s Cracker Jack Surprise storyteller Donna Fee is a real estate agent. She went to show an expensive house to a couple that was obviously occupied by a recently divorced bachelor. Something had her on edge about the house, and her instincts kicked in.

Neal Priest went to medical school — and many a great Mardi Gras party — in New Orleans, where he made brilliant and wonderful friends. At one party an inebriated friend dressed as the Tin Man disappeared during a period when the city was wracked by random gun violence. Would Neal and his friends be able to save him?

Cricket Bancroft is a “keeper of quilts.” Every quilt has a story, but not all are of interest to her. But when she went to an estate sale at an infamous old Athens house, she knew she’d found a quilt she wanted to keep. The house had a history of violence, and when she got home and looked at the quilt, she realized she’d brought some of that history home with her.

David Bothe was the underwriter of his friend’s vision quest. His friend was gone out West for months and when the man returned, David realized that he was jealous and wanted his own vision quest. Who would be his guides? Who were his mentors who had wisdom to share? Whom would he see emerge from the cliff walls?

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