June Buggin’ a success in Brundidge

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dolores Hydock, a Yankee gal, came to Alabama’s Chandler Mountain more that 30 years ago and found a home among the wonderfully simple and loving people there.

On Thursday, Hydock was openly embraced by those who gathered at the We Piddle Around Theater to hear her stories of how the people of that small mountain community made their way into her heart and forever changed her life.

Hydock was the featured storyteller at the Brundidge Historical Society’s June Buggin’ event at noon Thursday. She came to the theater, much as she came to Chandler Mountain, as a young college student– as a Yankee stranger. She left the theater just as she left the mountain as “one of us.”

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“Dolores Hydock quickly made her way into the hearts of all us,” said Cathie Steed, a BHS member. “The people in her stories that she knew and loved were much like the people that we grew up knowing and loving. She could have been sitting on the front porch sharing stories with any of us and we would have all understood each other and had a good time.”

Morgan Drinkard, interim director of the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy, attended a performance at the We Piddle Around Theater for the first time.

“The atmosphere at the We Piddle Around Theater is wonderful,” she said. “It has a rustic charm that’s real. I loved Dolores Hydock’s stories. I was one of the youngest people there and I could relate to everything she said. The performance appealed to a wide range of ages and that’s not something that happens often. And, the music by Amanda Smothers was incredible. She sang familiar songs in a different way. Everything was great – the atmosphere, the food, the music and the stories.”

On the flip side, Glenda Fayson has attended performances at the theater for more times than she can count. But she was equally impressed.

“Dolores Hydock was awesome,” she said. “I hung on every word that she said. An event like that where you can go and have good food, good music and sit back and relax and be so well entertained is what we need more of.”

Hydock was as impressed with the theater and the people as they were with her.

“You can tell that the theater is a labor of love,” she said. “What a vision and what a creative way to preserve the history of a community – of the rural South. The We Piddle Around Theater is a rich gift to the community. That is no small thing.”

Hydock travels all across the country telling stories and performing. That was her plan when she graduated from college with a degree in theater. But the plan didn’t work the way she thought.

“I realized that I couldn’t make a living in theater so I had to get a job that paid,” she said with a smile. “I went to work with computers as big as this room. But, the acting bug kept me itching and, finally, I had to scratch.”

Hydock began to do “readings” at Kirkwood By the River and people enjoyed them so much that they invited her to do a program for this club and a program for that group. Along the way, she was asked to tell her stories at larger venues that put a little jingle in her pocket.

“I had no idea that anything like that existed,” she said. “I started working just part time to give me opportunities to ‘tell stories.’”

She learned about a storytelling program at East Tennessee State and enrolled in the graduate studies program. She began to be invited to major storytelling festivals around the country and, in 2007, she was invited to the granddaddy of them all, the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn. That invitation certified that she had arrived as a professional storyteller.

Hydock can now include the Timpanogos and Four Corners storytelling festivals on her resume. She’s also a teller-in-residence at Jonesborough.

“I’m including more personal stories in my performances,” she said. “That was all new to me because, being a Yankee, we didn’t sit on the front porch and ‘sit, rock and lie,’ but now, I enjoy sharing personal stories and hearing the stories of others.”

Hydock is always willing to try new things and story theater is something that she’s finding satisfaction in doing. She’s writing stories to coincide with exhibitions at the Birmingham Museum of Art and is finding that endeavor interesting and rewarding.