Last updated: February 20. 2013 2:35AM - 498 Views

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Fiona Siobhan Powell knows a good story when she hears one – or tells one.

She's just not sure which stories she will tell, until her listeners settle in.

I don't pick my stories until I see the audience, said the veteran storyteller of Welsh and Scottish descent who tells stories she's learned from around the world. Sometimes it's as late as when the audience is sitting down.

So even today, she doesn't know for sure all of the stories she will tell Saturday when she returns to the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock.

It has to be that way, because she doesn't know what the weather or the mood of the audience will be.

I don't know if we're going to be facing snowstorms, what the world will be like, said Powell, who lives in Milton, Northumberland County. All she knows is what the first story will be and, generally, some of the other types of stories.

There will be a Welsh story, something funny, something thoughtful, something sad, she said.

It's an interesting and a scary way to do things, she said.

But, she added, I've been doing this over 20 years. If you go in with a set number of stories and it's all timed out, it's not going to work.

Powell knows about 150 stories, tales she learned as the daughter of a Welsh-American lawyer and a British actress, growing up in locales from Yokohama, Japan, to Orleans, France, to a village outside Canterbury, Kent, England, where she lived with her mother and her stepfather, who worked at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, according to her website.

She won a silver medal in an Irish storytelling competition in San Antonio in 2011.

When she tells stories, she will also have to see how many children are in the audience and gear her stories accordingly. Because with an adult story, you can go places you can't go with children's stories.

She's been working on a couple of new stories.

One of them may come out of the box.

Even the old stories may have new elements.

A story is never exactly the same twice, Powell said. It's like any live performance. People will laugh in certain places; someone will say something. It adds something.

In a story she tells about a lady who keeps asking for things from a fairy, she said, the fairy tells her to close her eyes and turn around three times before she goes to bed. One time when Powell told the story, a child interjected that the lady should brush her teeth before going to bed.

Now I have to say she brushes her teeth then spins around three times, Powell said.

When that kind of interaction happens, she loves the story. She does not have one favorite story, but she favors certain stories during certain seasons.

She hopes her audiences realize how important storytelling is.

We should take time to do it every day, she said. It is one of the earliest arts.

She said stories tell much about human nature and bring people closer together.

We learn how much alike we all are, Powell said. We have the same hopes, the same desires. We're all the same. We are, really.

if you go

Who: Fiona Powell, teller of tales

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock

Admission: free

More info: (570) 836-1022

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