Telling the story....

                                      ---an interview by Barrett Hathcock of The Birmingham Weekly

There are a few things you need to know about Dolores Hydock.

1) When Hydock was a young girl, she and her older sister checked out plays from their local library in Reading, Pennsylvania, and at night they sat up in their room, selected parts and read them aloud -- the two girls taking on multiple roles, accents, and dialects. A third sister served as the audience, supplying applause and standing ovations.

2) At age five, she won her first storytelling competition (age group: six and under) -- a blue ribbon with gold lettering.

3) Those childhood pastimes turned into passions: As a grownup, Hydock has made a living telling stories and play-acting.

And along with the things you should know, there is something you should notice, which is the way that Hydock talks with her hands. And her elbows. And her shoulders. When she speaks, she's literally irrepressible. A conversation is part word-exchange, part movement-piece. She doesn't so much tell stories; she delivers them.

An 18-year veteran of Birmingham stages, Hydock is a familiar face to anyone who has even a glancing relationship with Birmingham theatre. She has done numerous one-woman shows -- Shirley Valentine, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Fully Committed, and Nothing Sacred: An Evening of Stories by Ferrol Sams. She has had storytelling gigs at scores of festivals and special events. Her latest appearance in an ensemble production was The Exonerated, the Terrific New Theatre play previously praised in this space.

Hydock's storytelling style is infused with her theatrical experience, leading to a unique amalgam that's different than the more conventional Southern tradition. "I call [the Southern tradition] 'sittin' on the porch, rockin' and lyin'.' That's not the story tradition I grew up in and not the kind of story I tell. I can't do it. I'd be a big fake if I tried to do it that way."

The consequence is that her style is more based on technique and movement, but Hydock strives for the same level of immediacy and energy witithin a rigorously prepared performance. What makes Hydock's brand of storytelling different is that she brings a sort of simplified and pared-down theatre to groups that might not go to plays on a regular basis.

"I get to connect with people in a way that doesn't often happen in normal life. The story is the way in. For a moment, I get to intersect with people's lives in a way that is not trivial, that is not banal, that is not the ordinary, and for that moment, there is this little collision of humanity. It feels amazing to be able to have that happen."