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‘Literary Witches’ star at annual Bradbury Storytelling Festival

Storyteller Megan Wells will perform annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival Oct. 28 Genesee Theatre downtown Waukegan

Storyteller Megan Wells will perform at the annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival Oct. 28 at the Genesee Theatre in downtown Waukegan

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Updated: November 21, 2011 8:51AM



Summoned, as Shakespeare says, “through the fog and filthy air,” a group of witches will gather to cast their spells at the annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Genesee Theatre in downtown Waukegan.

Professional storytellers will appear as “Literary Witches” from such classics as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Hosted by the Waukegan Public Library, the award-winning festival presents two performances every year on festival day, a scary evening show for listeners age 12 and older, and a 10:30 a.m. matinee for school kids. Tickets are $17 for the evening show and $5 for the matinee, on sale now at the Genesee Theatre box office or www.ticketmaster.com. Library patrons can present any library card and receive $1 off at the box office.

“From Elphaba to Rowena Ravenclaw, witches rule pop culture these days,” said Elizabeth Stearns, the library’s assistant director of community services. “You can find memorable characters, good and evil, all over our shelves.” The upcoming festival will spotlight some of the wickedest witches in the library’s canon of classics, Stearns says.

As the Wicked Witch of the West, storyteller Megan Wells will evoke winged monkeys and a murder of crows in a headlong quest to destroy Dorothy and acquire her magical shoes. Wells serves as artistic director of the festival and appears each year in the persona of various nefarious characters, from Dracula to Mr. Dark.

The festival emcee, Jim May, co-founder of the Illinois Storytelling Festival, will perform “Invisible Boy,” an eerie Ray Bradbury tale about a witch of negligible powers who convinces a boy that she can make him invisible.

New this year, the evening show will feature a bilingual folktale performed in Spanish and English by storyteller Jasmin Cardenas. As “La Llorona,” Cardenas will reveal the tormented soul of a woman who drowns her own children to be with the man she loves.

Grammy-nominated storyteller Milbre Burch will make a special guest appearance at the festival. Winner of many national storytelling awards and honors, Burch will present “Sop Doll,” a suspenseful folktale about murder and witchcraft.

Honoring Waukegan’s famous writer-offspring, the Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival has entertained fans of storytelling and classic literature for the past six years. Each festival celebrates a unique literary theme such as “Literary Monsters” or “Literary Ghosts,” or this year’s theme, “Literary Witches.”

Winning entries to the 28th annual Ray Bradbury Creative Contest will be on display in the Genesee Theatre lobby on the day of the festival. Entries include short stories, poems and fine art created in response to Ray Bradbury’s story, “The April Witch.” Endorsed by Ray Bradbury himself, the annual contest offers cash prizes and winner certificates hand-signed by the author every year.

Attendees at the Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival are welcome to dress in costume as their favorite witch or wizard. Following the performance, the library will host a costume contest with prizes and a reception with all the storytellers at Green Town Tavern, three blocks south of the theater on Genesee Street. Admission is free, with a cash bar.

For more information or to order festival tickets, call or visit the library at www.waukeganpl.org or (847) 623-2041.



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