The Filament Theatre Ensemble is pleased to present popular storyteller Ben Kemper on Saturday, March 8 at 3:00pm at the Filament Theatre for an afternoon performance of some of his favorite folk tales and myths from all over the world. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children (under 16).
A native of Boise, Idaho and a current student at Northwestern University, Ben is already making waves in the world of professional storytelling. His unique performance style, energetic embodiment of character, and captivating imagery have taken him around the world performing for audiences of all ages. “He performs with great empathy, and with great understanding of the human condition,” says NU associate professor Rives Collins. “Here’s a young guy who has a gift for bringing stories together with beautiful language. For him, words are like keys on a piano, and he improvises like a jazz musician.”
“I love stories of all kinds,” says Kemper, who has been performing since he was eight years old. “Folk tales, fairy tales, funny stories, scary stories, and especially stories about family histories and private quirks.” He also writes his own original stories, one of which, “The Troll And I”, won him the title of Grand Torchbearer for the National Youth Storytelling Showcase in 2007. Shortly after graduating from high school, he was the recipient of a paid grant from the Idaho Humanities Council to research, write, and perform an original story based on an event in Idaho’s history. The result, “History From The Ashes,” is an hour-long performance about Idaho’s 1910 Big Burn, the largest forest fire in US history, which Kemper tells through portrayals of fourteen different historical figures. “A good story involves the audience in the history,” says Kemper. “It’s about making them feel like they’re there. You build a world, you build and image, and you toss it into someone’s mind. And they work to take your words and gestures and unfold it in real time.”
One of Ben’s more recent creations is Chestnut Hours. Held around the Northwestern campus, these are small public performances of three 20-minute stories each, all revolving around a common theme. They are inspired by the sessions held by his mentor, world-renowned storyteller Jay O’Callahan. O’Callahan has said of Kemper’s work, “Because Ben is part of the future of storytelling, storytelling will soar.” Kemper hopes to eventually mentor others in the craft as well, holding workshops and seminars to ensure that the Chesnut Hours, and ultimately the art form itself, live on. In the meantime, he continues to inspire audiences of all ages wherever he travels. As one Chinese 3rd grader put it, “I used to want to be a rapper. Now I want to be a storyteller.”