Heart to Heart Talk

Like Phelps, Hoffrichter intimates that storytelling is a calling that simply found her. She offers the "short version" of her own introduction to the world of tale-telling: "I went to John Stansfield's Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival in Palmer Lake, and I just fell in love. I knew this was it, what I'd been waiting for," she remembers. "I saw so many great storytellers there--I came back talking in tongues."

Though Hoffrichter taps into the fanciful side of human nature, she adamantly defends storytelling's importance as a way of forming and nurturing a very real sense of community. "Stories hold the heart of a culture, and the storyteller holds that heart in his or her hands," she says. "The ways a culture feels about religious beliefs, moral beliefs and behavior are all held in stories--they're like our safe-deposit boxes."

The Spoken Wheel members love to acknowledge their differences. Since they all auditioned for a spot in the troupe, the group's innate diversity happened by accident, and the resulting blend juxtaposes a world of cultures, stage styles and points of view. Above all, they don't see themselves as actors or performance artists or children's entertainers. They are storytellers.

"Performance artists come from a modernist bent--they like to start from scratch and invent something from nothing," Maier explains. "But the storyteller says, 'Heck, no, I'm just one in a long line of tradition, keeping it alive.'"

--Susan Froyd

Spoken Wheel in Speaking of Love.... 8 p.m. February 13, Washington Park Community Center, 809 South Washington Street; 8 p.m. February 14, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 3700 Baseline Road, Boulder; $10 at the door.

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