On the evening of May 29, the Overmountain men and women of the American frontier mustered at the International Storytelling Center.
They were the staff and volunteers of the National Parks Service’s (NPS’s) Southern Campaign of American Revolution Parks Group, on site for the opening night of a training retreat that would help them become better storytellers. Many came outfitted in elaborate period garb, to the delight and confusion of passersby.
The 35 participants came from four different national parks—Cowpens National Battlefield, Kings Mountain National Military Park, Ninety Six National Historic Site, and the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail—that, together, tell the story of how military events in North and South Carolina influenced the outcome of the American Revolution.
As a group of “living history” sites that bring the past to life for people who visit the parks, the American Revolution Parks Group asked ISC to organize a bespoke retreat to train its staff to deliver these important stories with extra polish and verve.
On Friday evening, after keynote remarks from ISC President Kiran Singh Sirah, the nationally renowned storyteller and museum educator Darci Tucker performed in character as two different Revolutionary women, including a soldier who disguised herself as a man and fought for more than a year before anyone noticed. Tucker’s presentation did double duty as a storytelling performance and a demonstration to train and inspire NPS workers who perform in character at the parks.
On Saturday, the NPS team worked closely with Tucker to refine their characters and learn new storytelling skills for their toolboxes as well as the mechanics of audience engagement.
The retreat earned rave reviews from participants, who left Jonesborough with a new skill set, and more importantly, renewed enthusiasm for the stories they’ve told many times.