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Raven Narratives draw tears, laughs in Cortez

MB McAfee takes the stage to tell an impromptu story at Friday’s Raven Narratives show at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez.

A standing room-only crowd heard a series of personal tales Friday at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez.

Eight storytellers performed the Raven Narratives spring show, titled “Baggage.” The troupe also performed Saturday at the Durango Arts Center.

The stories Friday were related to a “baggage” theme. Some dealt with emotional baggage, and others were about luggage.

Raven Narratives stories must be true and told in the first person. They must be eight to 10 minutes long, contain no rants and be recited from memory.

“Storytelling is the best way to understand each other,” said Tom Yoder, a Raven Narratives co-producer and performer.

His story involved personal baggage from a childhood event that has influenced him throughout his life, revealing knowledge about himself as he examined his baggage. He told listeners that they might also learn about themselves by unpacking their baggage.

Some stories were tearjerkers, and others drew laughter. Dan Jenkins told about learning the art of the bribe on a climbing expedition to Russia. Maddy Butcher told about finding two lambs in an unlikely place while on a cross-country road trip and how she cared for them. Chris Blankenship talked about feeling that he was being followed during a hike on the Colorado Trail. Jane Dally talked about learning how to wrangle horses on a Wyoming ranch.

McCarson Jones, David Holub and Katie Burford told personal and emotional stories about crucial moments in their lives.

Audience members were invited to put their names in a “Cracker Jack” box if they wanted to share a story. And after MB McAfee’s name was drawn, she talked about what she learned after losing her luggage during a trip to South Asia.

Co-producer Sarah Syverson said she thought the storytelling at Friday’s performance was stronger than at the first Raven Narratives show, held in January. The next round of performances, themed “Exposure,” will take place on Aug. 12 at the Sunflower Theatre, Aug. 13 at the Durango Arts Center and Aug. 20 at Silverton Town Hall. A fall series based on the theme “Forces” is scheduled for Oct. 21 at the Sunflower and Oct. 22 at Durango Arts Center.

Syverson and Yoder concluded Friday’s show by thanking storytellers and audience members. Yoder said everyone has at least one story, and he encouraged people to come forward with their tales.

“This is how we grow as a community and as a people — by sharing our stories,” Yoder said.