Storytelling is an interactive experience between the audience and the storyteller. Oral storytelling builds the listener’s imagination, and this ability to engage in mental “movie-making” helps strengthen literacy skills. —Deb Ireland, Hope Library
photo by Lauren Hudgins
Every September, thousands of activities are organized during Culture Days weekend that invite people to participate and experience arts and culture in all its forms: performing and visual arts, literature, heritage, crafts—you name it. Leading up to the big weekend, Culture Days is showcasing some of the creative and innovative activities happening across the country. This week, the focus is on storytelling and language-based activities.
Storytelling and oral culture
Oral storytelling is an ancient tradition that is believed to have been around as long as human language. The relationship between the storyteller and listeners is rarely a one way exchange, but is instead an interactive experience as the storyteller shares his/her stories and invites feedback from listeners.
Today, storytelling and oral traditions are alive and well. Oral culture has taken on many forms—from traditional chanting to spoken word, slam poetry, open mic sessions, to teaching and sharing the love of languages.
The most incredible thing about storytelling is that it has the power of bringing people together— it bridges the divide between ages, cultural differences, educational and socio-economic backgrounds due to its adaptable nature. Because of this, storytelling is often used as a tool for community making and strengthening.
Today’s digital culture means that information can be consumed instantly. Does this make oral storytelling irrelevant? Not a chance, in fact, storytelling offers a sense of connection that digital consumption cannot provide.
Culture Days roundup
Below are some Culture Days activities which focus on storytelling and oral traditions:
Port Hope, BC
Imaginarium: Story and Art Festival at Hope Library
Hope Library hosts a fun and interactive storytelling event for all ages. The event will remind participants of the importance of storytelling and the joy of unplugging and participating in an activity that connects us to our ancestors! The Hope Library says it “hopes to show that storytelling and the art of the storyteller still thrives in our communities and in our modern lives.” To learn more about this activity, click here.
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Spoken Word, Poetry, Music & Dance
Una Bruhns, North Vancouver's Culture Days Community Ambassador (2015) is organizing an afternoon of spoken word, poetry, music, and dance. “In Rocking the North Shore” is an all ages event that will feature well-known poets, writers and musicians, in and around B.C. Participants will also share their stories during an open mic session. Una Bruhns’ motivation for reaching out to seniors in particular: “I see a difference in their lives when they are involved in activities like this. Their faces light up and it improves their mental health”. To learn more about this activity, click here
Speak Your Truth
The London Poetry Slam presents, “Speak Your Truth”, a monthly spoken word/open mic style event supporting and encouraging a number of regular slam performers to speak openly through poetry. Storytelling is the heart of poetry, and poetry slams “enable us to walk in each others' shoes and feel alongside the person on stage. Poet’s stories let us see and hear each other clearer, learn from and support each other better, and love one another stronger,” says Holly Painter, spoken word artist, and the Director of the London Poetry Slam. To learn more about this activity, click here
Poetry Came In Search Of Me
Scarborough Arts is celebrating Culture Days weekend by exploring poetry in various ways, including a poetry walk, an exploration of local poets and storytellers with local poets, storytellers. Featuring different activities and communities, Scarborough Arts hopes to build a deeper connection with emerging and professional poets and storytellers in Scarborough, as well as showcase Scarborough’s cultural wealth through this medium. To learn more about this activity, click here.
Bloor St. Culture Corridor: European Day of Languages
For Francophiles and beyond, the Alliance Française Toronto is organizing a European Day of Languages by offering mini language classes in Czech, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. Their goal is to showcase the diversity of languages and cultures in Europe and connect people to the various European cultural institutions located in Toronto. To learn more about this activity, click here.
To see other storytelling and oral tradition activities, click here for a Bright Spots schedule, presented by Sun Life Financial.
Inspired to share your own activity? Register now!
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