Rochester Stories is a city-wide effort to bring the people of Rochester closer through story sharing.
1) I gather stories from people who live all over the city. This year, I collected 45 stories.
2) I select a subset of stories, transcribe them, and give them to actors to perform on stage at the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. The show also includes historical stories tied to Rochester and the stories of the cast members.
3) After each performance, we have a discussion session where audience members can meet the story owners, cast, and each other to talk about the stories and newly discovered common bonds.
Comment cards and audience reaction both years has been “More”. More stories, more often, more shows. It creates a hunger for local context, provided by learning the stories of our neighbors.
As I gathered stories this year, more people were aware of the project, or at least the concept. There was a greater openness to story sharing, an acknowledgement that story can be a powerful force in bringing our city together. Even those without time to stop and share recognized the value of the program – much more so than last year. Story is infiltrating Rochester – through this and other programs like the Human Library – and only to good ends.
*Watch the blog for a post in coming days on this year’s show*