Storytelling in Dubai

avatar Mark Fonseca Rendeiro Moderator Amazon Wishlist Icon
avatar Meedo Guest

12090690025_fea4f8dbf9_zAre we living in an era where the art of storytelling has risen to some newfound prominence? What kinds of stories are inspired and produced by the cultures of the Arabian peninsula these days? How difficult is it to achieve a balance between life and work in this environment?  These and other subjects are a part of this lunchtime podcast we recorded at the American University in Dubai this past winter.

Meedo Taha is, among other things, a storyteller based in Dubai. But before making a life in this city, his story went from Lebanon, to London, to Tokyo, to LA and beyond.

 

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Storytelling Renaissance, Sort Of

photo by Local Studies NSW/Flickr
photo by Local Studies NSW/Flickr

The word storytelling seems to pop up all over the place over the past year.  A quick glance at cultural events in your community and projects being carried out by NGO’s (such as our very own hardworking Small World News) and you are sure to see the word storytelling.  Storytelling as an art, a hobby, an activity to bring people together, to share experiences and culture; it’s this thing that has always been there, for generations, and might just be having a bit of a renaissance in the context of on and offline culture.

I’m often involved in discussions or projects related to the world of online story telling.  Truth be told, I do love a good story, and I do believe it is part of why I love to record other people’s words. By and large it must be a big benefit for all of us now and for future generations, that in 2013 storytelling got hip!

photo by giulia.forsythe /flickr
photo by giulia.forsythe /flickr

Despite the fact that it is probably good for our collective health and I myself am involved in teaching and promoting story telling online, I am also partly skeptical of all the noise surrounding the word. Storytelling for the sake of sharing with the world and bringing us closer together- yes! Surely it does matter how you present something, if the audience can understand it, follow it, and to some extent relate somehow. But storytelling that is focused on entertaining and manufacturing emotional high’s and low’s, as a journalist at heart, that is not what I am about. Of course I like a good story and have certainly exaggerated my way through some tales for the sake of a big smile or a “huh.. wow.. that’s amazing” reaction.  I too love the stories coming out of radio projects like This American Life, Radio Lab, or Snap Judgement.  But if indeed I am a storyteller and I’m busy teaching means of better telling their stories, I would rather inspire people to not try to entertain but rather – tell the truth.

Choose to record the words of a person without chopping up the audio or video in an effort to create an emotional moment. Films do that. Radio plays do that. Even the guy or gal at the bar on a Friday night does that. But we who genuinely want to bring stories of real lives and real issues from one part of the world to another, our priority should not be to produce “a story” that will captivate and move an audience, we should let the truth do that.  And if the truth isn’t enough to get someone’s attention, if the reality of suffering or triumph from some corner of the globe isn’t enough to compel an audience to listen, at some level, I say- so be it- life is not always entertaining or captivating. Sometimes life is just sad or wonderful or something in between. It is not a made for tv drama, and there are still many of us out there that don’t need to be entertained before we learn something new.

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ctrp413 Stories for Those Who Love Storytelling

Ambulante Photo by Joy Till on flickr

Annie Correal knows all about the nature of the news reporting business and the internet of news feeds and hypersharing. But she also knows a world where people take time to tell their stories and listen to one another. The online world of reading, writing and recording where taking time and moving perhaps a little more slowly, is well worth the wait. Her work with both Cowbird and Radio Ambulante reveals two such places where people from all walks of life are coming together, and sharing life in a very significant way.

Today on the podcast I get to know Annie Correal, and ask her questions about how she got started as a journalist to how and why these two special projects became part of her life. Join us for what I believe is a very important and enjoyable conversation. Then go tell stories of your own!

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Mobile StoryCorps

You’ve heard me mention one of my top 5 programs to listen to, NPR’s StoryCorps podcast. Today I listened to a beautiful edition of the program dedicated to letting individuals and pairs of people tell their stories to us the public and to each other. This particular edition featured, in part 1 – A mother who served in the US military in Iraq speaking to her young daughter about what it was like when she was away. In part 2 – Two prisoners telling how they feel about their families and their time in prison. Talking about what they miss most from the outside.

Now besides recommending you hear these beautiful and gut wrenching stories, I would also recommend you support the StoryCorps Mobile Tour. The program has long been great, but being able to hear, for example, prisoners reflect on what their lives are like and how they see the world since being behind bars… that is a rare oppertunity and worth supporting. But getting the recording booths into the prisons requires funds, and thats what I hope they manage to raise. Take a second and click over to their site, consider supporting the mission.

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