Overview of our 2023 Festival

Michigan Bright Water Storytelling Festival:
The Bridge That Connects Us

August 26, 2023
Various Locations in Howell Michigan
Storytelling • Open Mic • Workshops • Collaboration

2023 Featured Storytellers

La'Ron Williams

Nationally acclaimed and multiple award-winning storyteller La’Ron Williams shares both original and traditional tales that appeal to a wide range of ages and social backgrounds. His energetic, music-spiced presentations are always fun, highly participatory, educational and entertaining. Every program is specifically designed to promote diversity, foster community building, encourage peaceful conflict resolution and teach a host of “pro-social” skills, including empathy, self-expression and attentive listening. Williams has received high praise for his skill at presenting diversity workshops for adults, helping participants understand the nature of “invisible” bias and moving beyond the emotional stumbling blocks that prevent us from taking collective responsibility for creating a just and equitable society.


Karen Bonnici

Linking her musical and theatrical work with the traditions of storytelling, her performances inspire audiences of all ages. Karen incorporates physical animation, characters, and stories and songs, both old and new to create an enlivening experience. Accompanying herself on the autoharp, she creates an interactive experience for audiences with her unique collection of traditional and original works. Karen’s performances, workshops, and classes for storytelling groups, schools, libraries, story slams, festivals, and more offer “edutainment” through the art of Storytelling. Karen has been a Performing Artist since childhood, and has been involved in a variety of performance roles. In 1996, Karen discovered the world of storytelling, and has been mesmerized, enchanted and engaged in the art form ever since.


Genot Picor

Genot Picor is a musician, dancer, and storyteller. He has studied voice and movement at the prestigious Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario and holds a master’s degree in Theatre Arts/Interpretive Performance Studies from Eastern Michigan University, 2015. Picor is on the Board of Directors for the Michilimackinac Historical Society and is a touring member of the Michigan Arts and Humanities Council. In addition to being a retired public-school teacher, Picor is also a published folklorist and manages La Compagnie Musical Dance Troupe.


Robyn Henry

If you talk to anyone in Robyn's family, they'll tell you she's been telling stories her whole life! As a child, Robyn learned traditional legends, family stories, and Tribal Histories. In later life, at the University of Michigan, this naturally translated to a Major in English and a Minor in History.

She has been a professional teller since 1981. She performs at various schools (preschools, elementary, middle and high school), universities, museums, cultural centers, pow wows, and storytelling festivals throughout the United States. She presents workshops and residencies on Native American culture. One of her most requested workshops is "The Role of Storytelling in Native American Culture".

2023 Workshops

10:00am – Presenter: Karen Bonnici
From Fairy Tales to Followers: Unleashing Your Inner Social Media Wizard

Join us as we transform your storytelling prowess into a captivating online presence! This workshop will introduce you to the realm of social media, helping you cast spells that captivate audiences and build awareness for your personal storytelling brand. Are you a novice when it comes to social media tools? Fear not, this workshop is designed for you. Together, we’ll discover how to engage followers and attract a new audience to your craft. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can feel intimidating, but they are simply tools. Storytelling is the hard part, and you’ve already aced that. Now, let’s use these tools to weave your narrative across the online landscape.

2:30pm – Presenter: La’Ron Williams
Changing Our Stories Will Change our World!

This workshop workshop will examine the role of storytelling in shaping and maintaining some of humanity’s most basic harmful (“toxic”) ideas and values. We will examine and discuss a number of these deep-seated and dangerous paradigms that underlie folktales, fables, and other story forms within cultures all over the world. We will work to reshape these existing tales while we also craft new ones that promote healing (“sacred”) values of peace, justice, and positive social interaction.

4:30pm – Presenter: Genot Picor
The Public Tradition of French-Michigan Storytelling

During the French period of Michigan history (1620-1763), it was common for a traveling performer to visit French communities for two evenings of entertainment. The performance, called a veillée would include interactive stories, songs, and folk dances. The workshop will include examples of all three, so “bring yer dancin’ shoes (purely optional)!”

4:30pm – Presenter: Robyn Henry
“Do the Voices”

If your listeners plead with you to “Do the Voices” (OR if you’ve never heard the plea of “Do the Voices”) this is the workshop for you!  Join Robyn Henry for an interactive hour exploring the elements of characterization. You will: Identify various verbal and non-verbal characteristics • Recognize them in the content of a story • Apply what you learn to your own storytelling.

Drawing on her Native American heritage, Robyn will tell traditional tales. As a group, we’ll examine the ways storytellers show the personalities of their creations. A falsetto? Deep and growly? How are you expressing your characters?

There will be a brief Q and A, where Robyn will draw on her 42 years of professional storytelling experience to A your Qs. Finishing up with a story (what else?). This dynamic workshop will leave your listeners saying, “Do the Voices!”