A passion for storytelling

seven acts telling personal stories

Viva Voce formed in July and hosts events throughout the year.
Image by: Kashmala Omar
Viva Voce formed in July and hosts events throughout the year.

With an audience immersed in the words of ardent story-tellers, “passion” was a fitting theme at this year’s fourth Viva Voce.

Held in a cozy, radiantly-lit room in the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, the event held over 60 guests, including performers, audience members and event organizers.

Viva Voce is a group initiative in Kingston that started in July and aims for the voices of youth to be heard through story-telling that often borderlines on poetry, in a series of local coffeehouse-style events.

The event — curated by Melissa Prince and Stephanie McColm, both ArtSci ’17 — hosted seven acts of stories told my people with different takes on “passion”.

“[The theme] ‘passions’ just kind of gets the ball rolling,” McColm said. “At this point, they don’t really have to talk about passion specifically. It just went so far.”

Among the acts was Kingston resident Rebecca McQuaid, who spoke of her passion for teaching and the importance of it today. It was obvious that the subject was close to her heart based on the simple, yet powerful words she spoke on the topic.

The final act, George Woodhouse, ConEd ’15, kept the crowd laughing while still teaching a lesson about the passion of love. He used weather as a metaphor for love, and left the audience smiling with a personal song depicting his experiences.

First-time curators McColm and Prince want Viva Voce to extend further out into the community to show the significance of storytelling to youth.

“We’re trying to spread it out more — since we’re both Queen’s students, we draw in the Queen’s community,” McColm said. “But we’re going to be doing one this summer so we’ll branch out more into the community.”

The tradition of oral storytelling should remain, and Viva Voce aims for that, Prince added.

“It’s supposed to reach out to the whole Kingston community and encourage story-telling for the youth, and get back to the original oral traditions,” Prince said. “But we also love to see singing and dancing.”

The people who apply as storytellers get to interpret themes as they wish, she added.

Audiences were very positive and provided physical feedback during stories, as a form of encouragement to the performers.

Each performer had their own way of telling stories. Some were borderline poetic and others incorporated abstract dancing into their tales, such as Sarah Roche, ACE ’16, who told a tale of a man facing a tiger, utilizing the stage with strong dance motions.

The process for choosing storytellers is very general — the directors let people pitch ideas to them and choose the ones that they feel fit best with the theme.

“We have an interview process where we set up times, and people come talk to us, and tell us their idea of what they want to talk about,” Prince said.

“I think being around the time of Valentine’s Day, [the theme] was fitting,” she added. “All the storytellers interpreted the word ‘passions’ differently — we only have one love one — and it’s just amazing to see how one word can be interpreted and performed in so many different ways.”


spoken, word

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