Allison Downey featured at Ann Arbor storytelling festival

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Allison .


KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University education professor is continuing to make waves with her storytelling pursuits and will be one of four performers featured at The Ark's 25th annual Storytelling Festival Saturday, Feb. 18, in Ann Arbor.

Each year The Ark, Ann Arbor's nonprofit home for acoustic music, revives the oldest of all the arts with its February Storytelling Festival featuring talespinners from far and wide. This year, WMU's Allison Downey will join New Hampshire-born Willy Claflin, Hungary's Zalka Csenge Virág and Ann Arbor "townie" Lyn Powrie Davidge. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Downey, associate professor of teaching, learning and educational studies, also will perform at a children's show at 1 p.m. the following day.

Downey's performances stem from a longtime interest in oral traditions and personal narrative storytelling that culminated in a recent sabbatical research project to examine the resurgence of personal storytelling as a popular genre and what makes a good storytelling performance.

Last year, she hit the storytelling stage through a collaboration between Michigan Radio and The Moth, an acclaimed nonprofit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. The Moth podcasts boast a million downloads weekly, and the 1,300-seat Power Center show was sold out.

Downey's storytelling abilities have attracted nationwide attention. One of her stories was mentioned as a favorite last week in a New York Times blog on the storytelling project Story Collider, in which scientists and people affected by science recount short, often funny, sometimes disturbing experiences, mostly in front of a live audience. Downey was singled out for her story about how she and her psychologist husband engage in the classic debate: Raise their son by listening to the latest research, or to their instincts?

More information on The Ark Storytelling Festival is available online at