Syracuse Stories gets ArtsWeek off to a literary start
By Lorna Oppedisano
Whether it’s the work of Dr. Seuss or Shakespeare, a dance passed down through generations, or a George Lucas movie, there’s something about a great story that pulls you in while the “real world” melts away. In a word, it’s magical. Syracuse Stories: An All Arts Festival is bringing this magic to ArtsWeek.
“What we are basically saying by the title of the festival is that every art form has a story behind it. So whether it’s dance, theater, any form of art, there’s a story behind it.,” says Mary Stanley, co-director of the event. “We’re signaling that when people come to Syracuse Stories, they’re not just going to see an art form, but learn something about it—what it means, where it comes from.”
Stanley has prior experience with this sort of festival, and claims that the Paraty International Literary Festival in Brazil, or as it’s known in its homeleand, the Festa Literaria Internacional de Paraty (FLIP), was the influence for Syracuse Stories. “I have attended four FLIP festivals in Brazil,” Stanley says, “and I have been amazed at how a weeklong literary festival can mobilize a whole small city to understand its past, recognize its complicated present and imagine a collective future.”
Syracuse Stories began Monday, July 25, and runs through Saturday, July 30, offering a myriad of stories presented in all different media, all free of charge. Wednesday, July 27, will feature “Stories from Generation to Generation,” during which 10 community artists and representatives from a variety of cultural traditions will be sharing their art with the children enrolled in the Say Yes to Education Syracuse summer program This will be held TIMES at Thornden Park, Ostrom Avenue.
Then on Saturday, July 30, Syracuse Stories is hosting a ProLiteracy Day of Stories, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Everson Museum of Art’s Community Plaza, 401 Harrison St., and an All Syracuse Film Fest from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. inside the Everson’s Hosmer Auditorium.
“All the films are about, by or for Syracusans, and curated by the Syracuse International Film Fest and Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts,” Stanley says. “It’s a chance for Syracuse to revel in film as an art form. We think it’ll be fun; they’re a wonderful selection.”
Between the film screenings there will be time to discuss the stories with the filmmakers and participants. “It’ll be an opportunity to see how film can interact with a place,” Stanley says, “and tell the story of a place.” One must-see flick, according to Stanley, is The 15th Ward and Beyond, produced by the Black History Preservation Project. It will be shown at 3:30 p.m.
Saturday’s event will also tell the story of Syracuse, in every sense of the word. “Imagine the Everson Plaza as a mini-city, with every quadrant as a part of the city,” Stanley explains. “If someone is visiting and walking around, they’ll see Syracuse in miniature.” Each quadrant of the plaza will have its own specific stories to share, individual to the different quadrants of the city. “We will be bringing the Onondaga Nation,” Stanley says. “Before anyone else in the area told stories, they had a history of oral storytelling.”
Along with the city quadrants, Syracuse Stories will set up a stage for entertainment, including a story slam. “It’s going to be 10 people, and they’re going to be talking about how they got to Syracuse, or why they stayed,” Stanley says. “Clear Channel is promoting and gathering the stories for the story slam, and its producers and on-air hosts will select the top 10 to tell their stories. So it’ll be a fun opportunity for everyone to think about what it means to be here, and the stories we have to share.”
And lastly, what would a story festival be without a chance to leave your own? “What we have to offer is an opportunity to listen to stories and leave your stories. There will be story-making exercises, and story boxes,” Stanley says, where people can place their stories once they’re done. “What happens with stories is that they give us a sense of who we are and where we’re going. They help all of us make sense out of our lives.”
For more information, visit www.syracusestories.com.