The summer solstice is upon us, and the people of Champaign-Urbana are stirring. From the fireflies emerging from their winter slumber to turning over the dirt in your annual garden, change is in the heavily pollinated air.
On June 20, just before the sun sets on the night before the longest day of the year, storytellers Kathe Brinkmann and Dan Keding will be CU’s guides through this ethereal shift into summer at The Solstice Time Storytelling concert.
Whether you are a storytelling fanatic or new to the genre of oral narration, this concert is one you will not want to miss. Although Brinkmann and Keding perform separately, their collaboration will be an effortless presentation of stories both enchanting and mystifying. Give these brilliant artists your full attention and prepare to be transported through celebrations of the sun and events that could only transpire during the witching hour.
“I’m not telling any ghost stories because it is a sun solstice event,” Brinkmann said after Keding said he will be presenting one good horror tale at the event.“I’ll be the yin-yang — the balance. You said change, right?”
Looking at Brinkmann, Keding’s response was warm yet commanding.
“I’ll be the bad cop,” Keding said. “You be the good cop.”
The yin-yang balance of Brinkmann and Keding is evident throughout their storytelling careers. As storytellers, their job is not only to present a well-balanced concert, but also to be able to adapt traditional fables and folktales for 21st century audiences. They accomplish this feat with expertise and infallible faith that storytelling is not endangered in the digital age.
“People need it (storytelling),” Keding said. “I think they need it to cry and laugh and be scared. I think they need all those things.”
Brinkmann found her calling in storytelling by simply attending a workshop. The attractive dynamics of preserving timeless fables and then creating stories to capture new audiences had her hooked from the start. With her smooth voice, she diligently seeks that essential connection between her and her audience, regardless if it consists of adults who can relate to her personal stories or the rewarding challenge of engaging the young.
As Brinkmann talked about storytelling, it is clear the passion and joy it brings to her. In awe she expanded on the beauty of traditional tales and the communion between people they demand.
“They have been honed to a perfect format,” Brinkmann said. “When you are telling a story, there is an intimacy and they feel like they know me, and, yeah, they do.”
Keding’s passion for storytelling was passed down as an unforeseen gift from his grandmother.
Following his family’s Croatian tradition, they keep stories alive by passing them down through the women. This, however, was not the case for Keding.
As his family began their lives in America, with no female cousins born yet, Keding’s grandmother broke tradition and told them to him. As Keding pursued storytelling, this orator inheritance became inevitable in his future.
“Now that I’ve been doing this for a long time, I always feel a responsibility to the stories to keep them alive,” Keding said, “to make sure that people hear them, to make sure that people hear storytelling.”
He continues presenting both traditional and new stories — ghost stories being some of his favorites — internationally and across the United States.
No matter where their stories come from, Brinkmann and Keding share the mission of interacting with their audience.
They both agree that they don’t tell stories for their benefit, but to draw attention to the universal themes of the human experience that everyone can cherish.
Through the Solstice Time Storytelling concert, these remarkable storytellers find it high time to channel through stories to transport the people of CU to different lands and times.
After this event, don’t miss out on the Champaign-Urbana Storytelling Guild’s annual benefit for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The Solstice Time Storytelling concert will be at 7:30 p.m. on June 20 at Heartland Gallery, 112 W. Main St., Urbana. There will be an $8 admission and refreshments will be served.