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Professional storyteller, Asheville Storytelling Circle President and Black Mountain resident Donna Marie Todd is one of four finalists in The Great American Storytelling Contest to be held in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in September.

The home of “Prairie Home Companion” and Garrison Keeler, the Minnesota contest celebrates original narrative storytelling in America.

Storytellers from across the country submitted videos of stories. 

The story that landed Donna Marie a spot in the final four is “The Sheep-Shearing Beautician.” A hysterical flashback from her teen years in West Virginia, the comedic story features a beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking, down-on-her luck, part-time sheep-shearer and beautician who gives Todd a $5 haircut that takes a year to grow out.

Known for her vulnerable and daring original narratives filled with the voices of true-to-life characters and beautiful singing, Todd has been storytelling since 2003 on stages across the country. 

For the Great American Storytelling Contest, each teller will perform their submitted narrative. For the second part of the contest, the audience will call out ideas.

Each of the four storytellers will improvise a 10-minute story from the idea provided by the audience. A professional performer since she was 16, Todd plans to draw on her experience as an improvisational comedian in the 1980s for this unusual aspect of the contest.

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