FREE two-day storytelling festival features an intergenerational group of Memphians from across the city sharing their own stories in their own words
The Orpheum Theatre Group is excited to announce the return of Storyfest – a free two-day event featuring the stories of 49 Memphians from across the city ranging in ages 9-94. Storyfest features live performances, engagement activities, and community reflections and will take place at the Halloran Centre on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15.
“This is my story. I feel so good because what has been in all of us ladies all of these years, we’re finally going to be heard with no one passing judgement. I feel a load off my soul. This is the time for our stories to be heard.” – Elaine, Adult Participant from the Bickford Senior (2022)
“Storyfest asks everyone (storytellers, teaching artists, and audiences alike) to listen with curiosity and share in what makes us human; both what makes us the same and what makes us beautifully different,” said Taylor St. John, Director of Education and Engagement. “When we listen that deeply to the real experiences of our community, we are taking a stand–we are demonstrating that the voices of our community are essential to who we are.”
The FREE two-day festival showcases the voices of Memphians. An intergenerational group of participants from across the city have collaborated with the Orpheum Theatre Group to create original theatrical performances sharing their stories in their own words. This year’s Storyfest was created in partnership with Refugee Empowerment Program, Orange Mound Arts Council, Bickford Senior Center (through Creative Aging), and Middle College High School. Storyfest is sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust, Memphis Funeral Home, and members of the Orpheum’s Business League.
“It makes me feel like I have a voice. It makes me feel like I can hear myself and everyone else can see me using my voice.” Abyan, Youth Participant with the Refugee Empowerment Program (2022)
Storyfest is part of the Orpheum Theatre Group’s ACTS of Engagement (Access. Create. Transform) – free community programming that believes in the value of all stories and making space for those stories to be shared.
Storyfest will take place at the Halloran Centre (225 S Main St.) on Friday, April 14, 2023 beginning at 7pm and Saturday, April 15, 2023 beginning at Noon. To RSVP for the free event, visit orpheum-memphis.com/
“I spent a lot of time not revealing myself to people. There’s people that have known me my entire who have never seen my express myself like this. I’m learning a lot about people who have been around me for years that I’ve seen in passing.” Desi, Adult Participant from the Orange Mound Arts Council (2022)
About the Orpheum Theatre Group:
The mission of the Orpheum Theatre Group is to enhance the communities we serve by utilizing the performing arts to entertain, educate, and enlighten while preserving the historic Orpheum Theatre and the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education. For more information, visit orpheum-memphis.com.
Orpheum Education & Community Engagement Declaration of Action: We commit to engaging and collaborating with the people of the Mid-South through the transformative power of the arts.
April 14th at 7pm:
Tilling of the Heart – Created in partnership with Middle College High School
What happens when memory lane forces you to grieve the person you’ve lost while growing the person you once were? Do you weed out the parts of you that you’ve become so comfortable with, or do you allow life to plant new seeds to keep growing through the pain? Meet Alex, Amaya, Courtni, Dalandis, Emani, Joshua, Katelyn, Laniah, Nick, Ryan, Tyler, and Yan as they share true stories about moments that made them better, memories that made them vulnerable, and hearts that made them grow.
and . . .
In the Midst of Discoveries – Created in partnership with Middle College High School
How do you make space to find yourself in a world that places assumptions on you and tries to tell you who to be? What does the journey of self-discovery look like and what can it open your eyes to along the way? Meet Addyson, Akayla, Ameer, Brea, De’Airese, Ethan, Estoria, Gabby, and Jayden – students from Middle College who share their personal stories of growth as they take on life and find their power!
April 15th at 12:00pm:
Tryin’ Times and I’m Still Here – Created in partnership with Bickford Senior Center through Creative Aging
What does it mean to be born a Black woman in the American South during the critical fight for civil rights? What are the many roads of faith and wisdom that call us and keep us in Memphis? Meet Barbara, Carolyn, Daisy, Elaine, Geraldine, Jean, Lottie, Lydia, and Mary – women from the Bickford Senior Center as they take us on a cultural ride through segregation, integration, and celebration.
April 15th at 3:30pm:
Stepping Out of the Shadows – Created in partnership with the Refugee Empowerment Program
How do you stand up to a bully? What does it mean to hide from your feelings or even yourself? How can you be proud of your differences? Meet Abyan, Alice, Aline, Carine, D’Jadda, Ibrahim, Isaac, Mariam, Musa, Nyawech, Peace, and Radia – students and staff from the Refugee Empowerment Program who share stories of facing bullies, standing up for what you believe in, and loving yourself.
April 15th at 7pm:
Blessings through the Ups & Downs – Created in partnership with Orange Mound Arts Council
What can over five hundred years of combined wisdom teach us about life’s ups and downs, living, learning and loving through it all? Meet Barbara, Darlene, Desi, Gail, Hazell, L.H. and LaTrina- spirited seniors, friends, and storytellers from Orange Mound Arts Council whose stories of struggle, success, and celebration of life will help to light our way!