This past weekend Troy University hosted the 11th annual Pike Piddlers storytelling event for students and local residents.
The show took place in the Trojan Center Theater on Friday and Saturday, and featured four experienced performers. Friday’s event featured a single, free performance, while Saturday comprised three separate sessions open to the public.
Many students were encouraged to attend the performance by professors of journalism and communication, such as Maryjo Cochran, professor of broadcast journalism and communication studies.
“This is a wonderful opportunity that we (did) not want students to miss,” Cochran said. “It’s good for a giggle and some interactive entertainment.”
Josh Goforth, a Grammy-nominated musician, was the only storyteller for the Friday performance. His performance consisted of several entertaining PG-13 stories and songs that really connected to his audience of mostly college and high school students.
Goforth said his inspiration for storytelling came from his roots in a community of old culture and stories.
“I want to create a world for people to escape to,” Goforth said.
Friday’s show was not Goforth’s first time entertaining at Troy University, as the performer has been asked back multiple times.
“I enjoy the atmosphere and audience here,” Goforth said after his Friday performance.
While speaking with the audience, Goforth enlightened the audience about his career in music and storytelling.
When asked his opinion of the most important part of storytelling, Goforth said “use your voice,” as advice for anyone seeking a career in the trade.
Numerous Troy students attended the free Friday show, some with the incentive of extra credit, and were entertained and enriched.
“I gained a better appreciation of the way the art of storytelling from what I considered it to be before,” said Kris Ballard, a junior graphic design major from Mobile.
Saturday’s performances, featuring Donald Davis, Michael Reno Harrell, Adam Booth and Josh Goforth, had the theater packed with locals and out-of-towners anticipating colorful stories. Through years of extensive traveling with their shows, members have attained a broad fan base that are willing to travel many miles to see a show.
The show did attract an older audience, but this did not take away from the energy in the room, as the piddlers took the audience back to a more simple time with stories of their youth.
Adam Booth’s tale of working for a West Virginian church by playing an organ attached to the oven had the audience in tears.
Booth’s vivid storytelling painted a clear picture of each setting down to the smells. With each word, he was able to bring to life an experience so the audience could enjoy it with him.
Harrell tugged at the crowd’s heartstrings as he spoke of how he lost his blood-related grandfather and gained a surrogate grandfather. A seasoned musician, Harrell sang a ballad about the pocket knife his grandfather had given to his as a child before he passed.
Harrell tickled everyone’s ribs as he sung of the disadvantages of growing old. The line, “remind me why I came into this room,” had the audience in an elated uproar.
Each story had just a little “slice of life” that someone could take home with them. During intermission, people seemed to be at ease, discussing their own experiences and how they connected with the stories.
Subject matter varied from the difficult trials presented during youth, which brought an aura of nostalgia to the audience, to the cockamamie situations inevitable in old age. Every story was engaging and was appropriate for the whole family.
All of the musical numbers, some common and many original, added color, comedy and a sense of adventure to the stories. The audience eventually joined in the singing, becoming a part of the stories and adventure themselves.