FRIDAY NIGHT'S HEADLINERS

Steve Connell
Equal parts actor, comic, poet, and motivator Steve Connell has become, over the last few years, a transformative and sought after entertainer with private performances for President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Norman Lear and many others. He has created customized work for companies like Sony/Universal, Pioneer, Farmers and TEDMED.
Zahra Noorbakhsh
Zahra is a writer, actor and comedian based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent one woman show "Hijab and Hammerpants" is playing in theaters around the Bay Area.
Bil Lepp
Bil Lepp grew up in a family where the truth was fluid, so naturally he became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age. Though a champion liar, Bil explains that while his stories may not be completely true, they are always honest and often contain morsels of truth which shed light on universal themes.
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SATURDAY EVENTS

9:15 AM

CREATING CHARACTERS THAT POP 

ELIZABETH ELLIS

What do Scarlet O'Hara and Captain Ahab have in common? Listeners and readers must have characters with which they engage--positively or negatively. If the character does not elicit a response, the entire experience falls apart. Explore character development using a number of guided exercises based on sensory imagery, point of view and universality with Elizabeth Ellis.

10:30 AM

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

STEVE CONNELL

“I’m not an actor or a playwright, I’m not voice or lungs or heart or spine, I’m not poet or comic, I’m not breath or vision or mouth or mind, I am all of those things combined.  I create.  That’s what I do best…come see what I’ve been creating recently…”

12:15 PM

 FUNNY IS FUNNY 

ZAHRA NOORBAKHSH

It’s the greatest myth ever written about comedy and phrases like "Political Correctness has killed comedy," just makes you sound old. The real question is, "Is your audience in on the joke?" How do we create comedic setup, pacing and timing in prose and on stage that pulls out of our readers that genuine laugh-out-loud moment? How do we walk the line between comedy and drama? How do we take a moment loaded with humor and deflate it so that it's taken more seriously? How do you find the joke that only you could write? As the Pop Culture Collaborative's Senior Fellow on "Comedy for Change," Zahra Noorbakhsh answers these questions and more!

1:30 PM

IN CONVERSATION

W KAMAU BELL

Join Emmy Award winner W. Kamau Bell (CNN’s United Shades of America) as he sits down for a candid conversation.  We’ll talk about Bell’s path toward becoming a household name, his early days as sociopolitical comedian, how he’s kept his sense of humor through some very unfunny experiences, and of course how to stay relevant and incredibly funny

while pointing out some of the wrongs in today’s society. 

Come join facilitator Dave Pokorny for what promises to be an eye-opening, honest chat. 

There will be a Q & A in this hour, so bring your Qs!

2:45 PM

POETRY IN A TIME OF DESPAIR

DENICE FROHMAN 

"The personal is political" is a phrase often used when talking about our relationship to social justice--it's also used when talking about the power of art to create change. Denice Frohman will talk about her journey to finding her voice and understanding her identity through poetry and spoken word. She'll also explore why poetry matters, especially now, and why it's the world we turn towards in troubling times.

4:00 PM

BIL & SKEETER BREAK THE OCEAN

BIL LEPP

See title... but if that's not enough-

Bil and his pal Skeeter- two kids from a landlocked state- head to the Atlantic for a vacation, and through a series of misadventures believe they have stopped the flow of water to the ocean. Hear how they tried to fix it!

SATURDAY NIGHT'S HEADLINERS

Elizabeth Ellis
Elizabeth Ellis grew up in the Appalachian Mountains in a family of storytellers. From the Hans Christian Andersen Statue in New York’s Central Park to the Glistening Waters Festival in New Zealand, Elizabeth has captivated listeners everywhere she goes. She is a repeat favorite at the National Storytelling Festival and has been a Storyteller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center.
Denice Frohman
Denice Frohman is a poet, performer, and educator from New York City. She is a CantoMundo Fellow, former Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion and Leeway Transformation Award recipient.
W. Kamau Bell
W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian who is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning CNN docu-series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. Kamau has been nominated for multiple NAACP Image Awards and a GLAAD award, and he was featured on Conde Nast’s ‘Daring 25’ list for 2016.
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SUNDAY EVENTS

10:00 AM

A LOOK INTO THE (OFF-STAGE) LIVES OF ELIZABETH ELLIS & BIL LEPP

Elizabeth Ellis & Bil Lepp are two of the most sought after storytellers in the land.  They love standing on stage in front of strangers, telling their tales. However, it takes more than love of story to make it as a storyteller.  Find out the ins & outs of the oral tradition, as co-chair of the Storytelling Association of California, Sarah Armstrong tries to find out what they do in  the hours they are not on stage to get to and stay at the top of their profession.  

11:15 AM

LEAPING AND LOOPING ; THE WINDING PATHS OF STORYTELLING; AMANDA MCTIGUE

Familiar or surprising, comforting or explosive: stories take all kinds of shapes, shaped by all kinds of tellers. How can we widen them? Deepen them? How can we lift them from pretty-darned-good to Whoa! or Wow? In this mini-workshop, novelist/storyteller Amanda McTigue offers insights and hands-on exercises to help us discover—then hone—the stories we tell.

12:30 PM

IF YOU BUILD IT…WILL THEY COME?

When we started West Side Stories Petaluma we didn’t have enough people in the crowd to fill the 10 speaker spots, let alone the rest of the room.  So, how did we go from having more speakers than audience members to selling out the last 50 consecutive shows?  Come find out what worked and of course what didn’t in this informative seminar focusing on finding your tribe and getting them to join your vision.

“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” 

Bruce Springsteen

2:00 PM

WORKSHOP: BRANDON SPARS, HOW TO WEAVE FOLK AND FABLE INTO PERSONAL NARRATIVE?

Myth-Trusters: Using Myth and Folklore in Factual Personal Narratives

Brandon will discuss the role that myth and folklore can play in personal-narrative stories. He will demonstrate several stories that either directly reference folklore or employ elements of folklore while giving factual accounts of experiences from his life. Folklore and myth and the "mythologizing" of personal experience can be an effective way to bring stories to life as well as process trauma and grief.

3:15 PM

CLOSING CONCERT IS NOT TO BE MISSED

Do not miss the culmination of this years Wine Country Spoken Word Festival it is the ginsu knife of concerts featuring the home spun tales of legendary storyteller Elizabeth Ellis, but hold on, that’s not all you get, you get multi story slam winning teller and author Brandon Spars, but wait that’s not all, she’s an award winning teller in her own right and the author of the novel Going to Solace, she’s Amanda McTigue and rounding out this one of a kind event is the five-time champion of the West Virginia liars contest Bil Lepp.  This show will be hosted by the co-producer of The WCSWF Dave Pokorny-because he can.

upcoming events

Sept 4

high school

oct 2

magic

nov 6

all's well

that ends

well 

Nov 7

Margot Leitman

Workshop

Dec 4

One thing leads to another

Steve Connell

Equal parts actor, comic, poet, and motivator Steve Connell has become, over the last few years, a transformative and sought after entertainer with private performances for President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Norman Lear and many others. He has created customized work for companies like Sony/Universal, Pioneer, Farmers and TEDMED.