FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            Date:  March 28, 2001

                                                                        Contact:  Lezli Austen

Award-winning storyteller to perform at UIS’ annual Verbal Arts Festival

SPRINGFIELD – Author and award-winning storyteller Patricia Hruby Powell will be the keynote speaker during Verbal Arts Festival 2001, a celebration of the arts on April 17-21 at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Performances by Brainchild, The Black Writer’s Forum, The Verbal Arts Players, The Repertory Theater, and All Things Medieval will also be featured. All events are free, open to the public, and will be in the Studio Theatre, lower level of the Public Affairs Center on the UIS campus.

The focus of this year’s festival is “Speaking into Being: The Oral Traditions of Literature.” Powell is a writer, teacher, dancer, and a performer who brings to life the oral beginnings of great literature. Her performance, “An Evening with Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, and Emily Dickinson,” set for 7 p.m. on Friday, April 20, will highlight that theme. She will lead a pre-show discussion, followed by a one-woman performance of the lives of these three women who dared to break the male monopoly on literary greatness in the 19th century.

First she will be Austen, writing her novel Emma late in the winter of 1814; “Austen” also reads from her newly published Pride and Prejudice. Powell will then portray Bronte, soon after the publication of Wuthering Heights–sharing memories of her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, on the day following the funeral of their brother, Branwell. Finally she will be Dickinson the recluse, writing her pithy, unconventional poetry in Amherst, the heart and soul of old New England.

Marcellus Leonard and the Repertory Theater will present two humorous and poignant shorter works – David L. Login’s I Adore You Maria and Dakin Dalpoas’ Eatin’ the Camel – at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.

Brainchild and The Black Writer’s Forum will present a tribute to Dr. Maria Mootry, UIS, associate professor of African-American studies and English. Mootry, who died in May 2000, published five books and other works including various plays and poetry. Readings from her works and a special award presentation will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18.

The 2001 Alchemist Review, UIS’ literary magazine, premieres with readings by its authors at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 19. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m.

The final night of the festival is a literary treat filled with readings and music beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 21. The Verbal Arts Players will present Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Aus Einer Sturmnacht” (From a Stormy Night). All Things Medieval, a group of UIS students interested in medieval studies, will present a selection of songs titled “Carmina Sacra Et Profana.”

Powell received a diploma from the London School of Contemporary Dance, a bachelor of fine arts in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), a master of fine arts in dance from Temple University in Philadelphia, and a master of science in library and information science from UIUC where she specialized in children’s librarianship. Powell’s career as a solo modern dancer has taken her throughout the U.S., Latin America, and Europe over the past three decades.

Since 1993, Powell has been a professional storyteller. Whereas she used to speak to accompany her dances, now she dances and plays percussion instruments to accompany her storytelling. Her book Blossom Tales is due out next spring. Her essays and stories have been published in Cricket, Spider, Calliope, Storytelling Magazine, Storytelling World, Adventures in Storytelling, and in the literary journal New Stone Circle. Powell’s story “How the Snow Became White” won an award from Adventures in Storytelling and she won the second runner-up award in the “1996 Storyteller of the Year” contest sponsored by the Creative Arts Institute. Cited as one of the 250 most successful community artists in the nation by the NEA-sponsored America Creates for the Millennium, Powell has recently performed throughout Illinois and in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada.

The annual festival is sponsored by the UIS English Program, Humanities Club, Academic Affairs Speakers Committee, Black Writer’s Forum, and Brainchild.

For more information, please call Ann Whalen at (217) 206-7459 or email