Master Classes

Master classes are 5 hours of intensive learning with an expert on the topic and a limited class size for maximum learning opportunity. 


Classes will be held on Thursday, June 29th from 1-6 pm in Kansas City, MO at the Country Club Plaza Marriott (conference hotel); separate fee required - $100 each


Register soon to secure your seat early before selling out.
All levels of attendees are welcome!



Exploring the Difficult Story

with Elizabeth Ellis & Loren Niemi


A difficult story is any tale hard to hear or challenging to tell. This process oriented Master Class builds skills applicable to ALL types of material: historical, sacred, personal or traditional.  We will examine the why and how of difficult stories, focusing on crafting material consciously, truthfully and artfully.  Our intent is to create safe space for participants to "speak their truth" through guided discussions and practical exercises for shaping, telling and hearing these stories without shame or blame. While based on Inviting the Wolf In:Thinking About Difficult Stories, there will still be room for new insights and ideas.

A repeated favorite at the National Storytelling Festival, Elizabeth Ellis received the National Storytelling Network’s ORACLE Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. A sought-after coach and teacher, she conducts intensives and workshops for teller growth and renewal. In addition to working with Loren Niemi, she has authored From Plot to Narrative and Every Day A Holiday.


Loren Niemi is an innovative storyteller, teacher, consultant and coach. He is the author of a poetry chapbook, Coyote Flies Coach, The New Book of Plots and co-author with Elizabeth Ellis of the critically acclaimed, Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories.  He received the National Storytelling Network’s ORACLE Lifetime Achievement award in 2016.


Powerful Story Presentation: A Coaching Master Class

with Beth Horner


A unique approach for beginning and experienced storytellers.  Active, hands-on class mastering techniques for presenting a dynamic, memorable story.  Deep focus on story analysis, back story, underlying structure, intriguing characters, creative word and image choice, voice and expression. Our goal: using your unique voice to build a vivid connection with the audience. Note: Bring a story you long to tell or to tell better. Any genre: original, folktale, personal, literary, family, historical, mythological, etc. 

With “A Wit So Sharp You Can Shave With it”, Beth Horner has been sought after as a storytelling performance and teaching artist for 34 years, and is an NSN ORACLE Circle of Excellence recipient.  Beth is known for her particularly perceptive and powerful coaching techniques and has delighted in nurturing storytelling skills in students, attorneys, teachers, storytellers and even NASA Astrobiologists.


Everybody Comes From Somewhere: Designing Storytelling & Civic Engagement Residencies

with Karen “Queen Nur” Abdul-Malik


“Everybody Comes from Somewhere” is a Perkins Center for the Arts Folk Arts & Civic Engagement Model that we will examine as we engage your creativity and storytelling skills to design a 3-step interactive residency for elementary students and their communities. 1. Explore the elements necessary to instruct how to collect family oral histories with a focus on migration, immigration and folklore.  2. Participate in exercises to engage students in re-telling the stories they collected.  3. In a group dynamic design an innovative civic engagement storytelling event based on the real life characters presented in the stories.  Walk away with a template to implement a Storytelling & Civic Engagement Residency! 

Karen “Queen Nur” Abdul-Malik, Director of the Folklife Center at Perkins Center for the Arts, is a nationally renowned storyteller and teaching artist, Immediate Past-President of the National Association of Black Storytellers and Founder-Executive Director of In FACT, Inc: Innovative Solutions through Folk Art, Culture and Tradition. Her CD “Sweet Potato Pie and Such” won an IParenting Media Golden Award. She has received “MidAtlantic Artist as Catalyst Grants” for her work with Teens-at-Risk and Women’s Shelters and NSN’s Brimstone Award for her innovative community-based programs.



To register: