CYNTHIA WATTS - STORYTELLER
As a child Cynthia Watts remembers her grandmother, Mary Ogburn Boyd, telling wonderful stories. The stories usually involved animal characters; ant, grasshopper and ber' rabbit. There were Biblical characters too, and of course people she knew growing up in Virginia. Beyond entertainment, Cynthia was beginning to see significance. Her great, great aunt, Susan Jones for example, was born in Virginia in 1866, the year after slavery ended. Susan Jones shared rich memories of a previous time in history. She lived to be 108 years old and willingly told what she knew of family history and the times immediately following slavery. It was much, much later that Watts read Aesoph's Fables and found that her relatives' stories transcended time.
While these learning experiences at the feet of traditional storytellers prepared Watts as a storyteller, other experiences greatly enhanced her creative artistry. In college while studying sociology and speech, she spent many hours engaged in theater programs as a back stage technician, and later as an actress. Upon completing college, Watts began a career teaching in colleges in the rural south, later teaching in Atlanta.
In addition to teaching Watts has traveled extensively in United States and abroad. On two occasions she spent time in West Africa and has visited Mexico, Britain, South Africa and many Carribean Islands. A highlight of a trip to Jamaica was telling stories at the American Embassy there. Watts has traveled throughout rural Georgia conducting school residencies for the Georgia Council of the Arts and other independent Arts Councils. She has been a participant on the Alternate ROOTS/NEA tour which offers a subsidy to presenters. She has performed in California, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C. and many other states.
Preschoolers have participated with her, as well as senior citizens at festivals, banquets, colleges, museums, hospitals, churches and other civic organizations. She not only performs, but she instructs in the art of storytelling through workshops, seminars and continuing education courses.
Her artistry has been recognized by the city of Atlanta; she was selected as one of eleven artists to present workshops to inner city school children. Through a grant she has had success in helping delinquent children take a new look at their world via storytelling.
Through using insights from many cultures, storytelling helps audience members transcend their own experience, time and culture for universal truths which are life enriching. She refuses to talk at people, but carefully involves audience members as imaginative, creative listeners. Cynthia recreates the intimacy of the storytelling art form which allowed its survival through the ages. The telling of her tales speaks to our time.
CYNTHIA WATTS - REVIEWS
On behalf of the Friends Scull Shoals, I want to thank you for your willingness to come out to the Ruins.
I especially appreciated you creating a picture for us of your family by the stories you shared from your personal background as well as hearing the clever and timeless African - American stories from your heritage.
Entertaining, delightful, cunning and enriching, there was something in them for us all, and your personal warmth made all the difference. We loved you.
Laurie Sedicino, Curator
Friends of Scull Shoals, Inc.
Storyteller Cynthia Watts glows as she recites... and she does it with feelings.
Atlanta Journal Constitution
0h, that we could begin every Monday morning as we did today! Thank you for helping us to "wake up" our imagination. We did enjoy ourselves.
Nancy Blalock, Media Coordinator
Elizabeth School, Shelby, North Carolina
Thank you for your wonderful evening of storytelling! I certainly enjoyed it and I know the audience did. It was an appropriate complement to the exhibition.
Suzanne LeBlanc, Curator of Education
Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia
Watts was at her best ... she related the tale with genuine pathos and pride, freshness and vigor.
Macon Telegraph and News
Our clients could not stop talking about you the when you left. You triggered their imagination so much with your spellbinding and fascinating stories. We went on to create our own story after you left. They generously borrowed from your stories, but it was such a joy to see some of them so enlivened and enthusiastic. This was due in a large part to your presence here. Please accept our heartfelt THANKS and may God bless you to continue your uplifting work.
Espinetta E. Dorsey, Director of Intergenerational Resource Center,
Ebenezer Adult Day Rehabilitation Center, Atlanta, Georgia
PHONE (404) 758-9873
FAX (404) 758-0800