“When you hear other people’s stories, you realize how unique each person and group is and what we all have in common. When we’re able to walk in each other’s shoes, even for a few minutes, a stranger becomes a friend,” said Susan O’Halloran, organizer of an online storytelling festival, Stories Connect Us All.
Identifying and empathizing with all that we have in common is the bridge connecting 72 stories by 60 professional storytellers from around the world. The entire festival happens on Facebook, through video posts every 30 minutes from Oct. 9 through Oct. 11. The storytellers will be online throughout the festival to dialog with the audience in real time via Facebook chat and postings.
O’Halloran has organized live storytelling events for 20 years and began this festival online “in hopes of reaching an even larger audience with stories that can heal our racial and ethnic divides.”
In 2012, the online festival’s first year, it had a Facebook reach of more than 50,000 people from 16 different countries.
Baltimore storyteller Gail Rosen has two stories in the event. Rosen is well-known for performing “The Story and Poetry of Hilda Stern,” a Holocaust survivor and poet who Rosen met in person and whose life story she recounts to illustrate profound lessons of struggle, hope and the strength of the human spirit. She uses storytelling as a path for transformation and healing.
Rosen’s stories for the online festival are “Ancient History? Do Stories of the Holocaust Really Matter?” and “Who is a Friend? German-Jewish Reconciliation After the Holocaust.” Both stories address her complex friendship with the son of a Holocaust perpetrator. Through the stories, Rosen asks, “Is history just stories that happened before you were born? Does history really matter?”
Rosen discovers that history does matter. You can see Rosen’s stories and all the others at facebook.com/storiesconnectusall. If you visit before the event launches, you can see behind-the-scenes footage. From Oct. 9 through Oct. 11, you can hear the stories straight from their tellers.