Latitudes Storytelling Festival

July 10, 2010 at 3:06 am Leave a comment

Running concurrently with Kitchener’s Multicultural Festival in Victoria Park on June 26th and 27th was the  Latitudes Storytelling Festival.  Latitudes, founded and directed by Lori-Ann Livingston,  celebrated its 5th anniversary of storytelling with venues  for adult and children.

It seems fitting that the two should run together, since our country and city have become a microcosm of world languages and cultures. Performers shared their stories in spoken word, verse, violin, jaw harp and singing. I had the pleasure of  introducing and listening to the performances of Mary-Eileen McClear and the Story Barn in Baden as well as Trevor Ewert telling of his grandfather’s violin and his experiences in Russia and coming to Canada, Sarah Granskou, exploring her Norwegian roots and musical storytelling, as well as  hearing a young lady named Miriam, who played her violin as part of Granskou’s stories.

The Multicultural Festival featured music, drumming, speaking, Kitchener Musical Society Band performance, and other entertainment.  Early in the festival and also near its end, sporadic rain showers caused people to find cover. The pattering of rain on tents and table tops hushed the music and other voices for a time.

In a festival such as the long-running and much-expanded Multicultural Festival, one hears English, French, Turkish, Greek, African dialects, and German, to name a few. One can also smell and taste the food of another culture— the Greek souvlakis was my choice.

Tents lined the walkways, with selections of fabric goods, jewellry, hand-crafted items. There were also information booths, including one staffed by members of local Toastmasters clubs in which one can learn to improve speaking and leadership skills. Some have even come to practise their English.

If the voices of all those  people were to be heard, I’m sure there would be many stories. Among them would be stories of perseverance, courage, stories of survival and culture, and folk stories, humorous and invented stories. In the program, Lori-Ann summed up her thoughts,”The stories will never all be told.”

How many will tell their stories to family or beyond? How many have been silenced by their past, unable to share. I, for one, am glad that storytelling is making a strong comeback.

Carol Leigh Wehking & Glenna Janzen, tandem storytelling at Open Mic

 Global CoffeeHouse Stage Global Coffeehouse Stage, Roos Island

Nada Humsi at Global Coffeehouse Stage on Sunday Nada Humsi at Global Coffeehouse Stage, Sunday, June 27th

Derek Brisland performing on the  Coffeehouse Stage, Sunday June 27th

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