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Grammy-nominated Storyteller to Present Gender-bending Folktales in 'Changing Skins' Show at SUNY Plattsburgh

Grammy-nominated storyteller Milbre Burch will present her one-woman show, “Changing Skins: Folktales about Gender, Identity and Humanity,” at SUNY Plattsburgh Monday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Krinovitz Recital Hall, Hawkins Hall. Admission is free.

“'Changing Skins' looks at the wealth and persistence of gender-bending images in oral tradition stories all over the world in the face of identity issues coming to the fore today,” Burch said.

The show will feature a collection of stories, including the tale of a young woman who shuns her human suitors because she has fallen in love with the moon; folktales of female-to-male and male-to-female transformation; and the story of a boy who gives birth. Drawing on a background of dance and movement theater, Burch shapes and colors her stories with a language of gesture and movement to enhance the theatrical experience.

Called “one of the most important voices in the American storytelling revival,” Burch is the performance reviews editor for the academic journal, “Storytelling, Self, Society.” She is also Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Theatre at the University of Missouri.

She has been gathering tales of transformation for most of her 30-year career as a professional storyteller. Her repertoire has included oral tradition stories about fox brides, serpent husbands, dragon siblings, animal offspring and cross-dressing heroines and heroes.

Burch began to develop “Changing Skins” with a Huebner grant from the National Storytelling Network in 2008. It is the third one-woman show she has created, interweaving traditional folktales, personal stories and cultural commentary around a topic.

SUNY Plattsburgh theater professor, Dr. Shawna Mefford Carroll, who is bringing the show to campus, also produced its premiere through Independent Actors Theatre in Columbia, Mo., in the summer of 2010.

The event is supported by the Department of Theatre with support from the Student Association through the Campus Arts Council, the Department of Women and Gender Studies, SOUL, College Auxiliary Services and a wellness grant.

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