Four and a half stars
Military Park; Oct. 13.
Moving my imaginary Barclay lounger from tent to tent for five hours, I indulged in more comedy than can possibly be good for me, plus the occasional pulling of the heartstrings. Cuban-American Antonio Sacre, a last-minute substitute for Carmen Agra Deedy, started my afternoon with memories of his childhood refusal to speak Spanish and the feisty grandmother who crammed it, almost literally, down his throat. Next, I was in the capable and fluttering hands of Donald Davis, who must be the festival’s king. With honeyed North Carolina tones and a feigned innocence, the gray-haired Davis described the odd yet tantalizing coupling of his mother and father, Christmas gifts gone bad and his own young huckster self. In another tent, Hoosier couple Bob and Kathie Myers read a soldier’s letters written during World War II. Grammy winner Bill Harley brought me back to my own time, with his Indianapolis childhood quests for adventure in school hallways and glory over a plywood bike ramp. These storytellers provided spoken imagery you could trip over and fall into. To boot, they had an even rarer soundtrack, created by talented sign language interpreters, whose fingers dipped and rose with meaning, while their faces winced and grinned with feeling."