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Tellabration! celebrates 18 years of original storytelling

Patrick Varine
| Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, 2:06 p.m.
Maria Schumann and Camelia Leo'n chat with Marsha Wong (right) at the  the Murrysville Communuity Library. Wong will be one of eight storytellers at ths 18th annual Tellabration! on Nov. 18 at Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Maria Schumann and Camelia Leo'n chat with Marsha Wong (right) at the the Murrysville Communuity Library. Wong will be one of eight storytellers at ths 18th annual Tellabration! on Nov. 18 at Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church.
Storyteller Marva Seymour talks with George Klein during intermission at the 2015 Tellabration! This year's event will be Nov. 18, 2017, at Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Storyteller Marva Seymour talks with George Klein during intermission at the 2015 Tellabration! This year's event will be Nov. 18, 2017, at Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church.

Marsha Wong of Murrysville knows the value of a good story.

“It's a way to reach people,” she said. “It's a way for people to understand their environment, transcend their culture and understand how we're all the same.”

Wong will be joined by seven other members of the StoryWorks Storytelling Guild at the 18th annual “Tellabration!” Nov. 18 at Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church.

Wong has been telling stories her entire life.

“As a child, I used to think, wouldn't it have been wonderful to be a storyteller from ancient times, going from village to village, earning my keep by telling stories about what was happening in the world,” she said.

Wong has been a guild member for the past 15 years. This year, she will tell a story called “Refugee Rescues,” about her father's time as a sea captain in the early 1980s.

“He was in the South China Sea on his way to Japan, and he rescued a number of sailors off the coast of Vietnam,” she said. “These were people who had been robbed by pirates, and they were just floating in the water. There were 43 people on one small boat he found, and if his ship hadn't picked them up — even though it was illegal to do so — they could've died.”

Just west of Murrysville, Michael Perry of Forest Hills has been telling stories as a guild member for more than a decade, and belongs to the Monroeville chapter.

“I think I've always been drawn to storytelling,” Perry said. “As soon as I went to a couple meetings, I was really attracted to the dynamic.”

Perry loves the circus, and it is featured in many of his stories.

For this year's Tellabration!, however, he plans to take advantage of the catch-all theme, “Anything Goes.”

“My story this year is called ‘Mom is a Verb,'” he said. “It's really a tribute to moms everywhere.”

For Wong, the goal is to tell a story that stays with the listener.

“Stories impart values and virtues, and that's a big part of the reason I enjoy telling them,” she said.

Perry agreed.

“It's just a really pure form of communication,” he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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