Red River Storytelling Outfit

by Jared Tredway

Tell me a story

Stories are as old as language itself. As soon as humans learned to communicate, they probably expanded that communication in a story with a beginning and an end. Until early mankind learned to write, with symbols, pictures, or marks that represents the sounds made with the voice, stories were the repository for the community’s history, religion, lore, and knowledge. Stories were how parents connected verbally with their children, and the way children learned what was expected of them by their elders.

Sadly, this so important skill, art, and pleasure seems to be fading away, overwhelmed by the flashing lights of the enthralling electronic medium in every pocket. The family waiting for their order in a restaurant does not talk or tell stories but retreats into their own, isolated, and essentially lonely world as they are mesmerized by electronic wizardry.

(If we had a drummer, this would be the place for the botta-bing, botta-bang, botta-boom.)

Friend, how long as has it been since you told or heard a good story? Well that’s too long. The Red River Storytelling Outfit is here to fix that. So gather round.

The Outfit was founded in 2001 by Waynetta Ausmus, a director of Tejas, the state storytelling organization for Texas, her husband, Marvin Brown, the real mover and shaker in the Outfit, Lanny Joe Burnett, a highly respected Cowboy Poet from Bonham, and Edward Southerland who has always been a little on the windy side. Now, about that name. all of the other storytelling groups in Texas are dubbed Guilds, but we decided that “Guild” sounded like lace makers from Ghent, so being hard along the Red River where that Texas cattle business got started, we would be an “Outfit”—the only one in Texas. Think Zane Grey and The Hash Knife Outfit for a reference.

Nineteen years later, with some ups and down, ins and outs, starts and stops, and the like, we are back in the saddle with stories old and new. Marvin Brown, our real inspiration is telling stories on a cloud somewhere, and Waynetta moved on to a new job that fills her time, but Lanny Joe is still weaving poetry about cowboys and horses and such; Edward is still coming up with tales from an odd collection of sources, and we have added Doris Hainey who mines her West Texas upbringing and her school teaching days in Whitesboro for fodder for our outfit.

So come on down to Ghost Town for an introduction to the new old world storytelling. Think of it as a recruiting drive for more stories, storytellers, and story listeners. In the future, it will be a place to hear stories, tell your stories, and pick up tips and ideas on how to do it better.

We want this to be a learning as well as an entertaining experience in line with the overriding goal of Ghost Town to support established artists, create new artists in a variety of disciplines, and have a good time doing it. Storytelling is a group endeavor; it cannot be done alone, so join the Outfit for grand old time on the storytelling trail

Led by local writer and storyteller Edward Southerland, these workshops are free to attend with a $5 suggested contribution to the GTAC. So, pay online below, or just show up and make your contribution. Thank you!