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Civic Impact

Toronto Storytelling Festival celebrates local and international performers

On April 2, eight of the city’s best storytellers gathered under the Centre for Social Innovation’s roof for an evening of tale tales and personal narratives. Organized in conjunction with the Toronto Storyteller’s Festival, nearly 200 attended the Storyteller’s Fete. The event showcased performers from local storytelling evenings including Pressgang Theatre, True Stories Told Live, Tales from the Black, and more.

Organizer Stefan Hofstetter, who runs the monthly storytelling event Stories We Don’t Tell, said the event was a special one. Growing out of the festival’s Storyfire community events, the Storyteller’s Fete “a premiere Storyfire event, to bring these events under one roof,” says Hostetter. “The storytelling scene in Toronto isn’t huge, but it is growing, and we wanted to celebrate how cool and powerful the scene can be.”

In contrast with the festival’s frequent focus on tall tales and folk stories, the fete was a blend of both personal narratives and fictional stories, which Hostetter says appeals more to an older, more traditional storytelling crowd. “The goal was to bring people together. We wanted young people to see the roots of storytelling and where it came,” he explains. “Storytelling is important, because personal narrative is uniquely in its ability to draw people in our lives. Done well, it may be the most effective builder of empathy.”

The Toronto Storytelling Festival continues through to April 10, with events from local and international performers. It will conclude with the TD Story Jam, a two-day event at the Harbourfront Centre. The TD Story Jam will focus on family-friendly narratives, including stories from the natural world and from international origins. As Hostetter says, “In Toronto, we come from so many different places and there are so many different back stories. We don’t all share the same childhoods, or the sense that this is the way it’s always been. We do have the same feelings, emotions, and fears, and those emotions help bridge that lack of shared history.”
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