Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stories fill hearts, bellies

By JIYOON ELLIE KIM
The Observer

Tall tales have been drawing attention from outside East York to a local church’s community event.

St. David’s Anglican Church, at Donlands and Danforth avenues, invited audiences of all ages to enjoy folk tales from around the world. The last round of the Mosaic Storytelling Festival 2012 was March 18, capping a run of biweekly instalments since January.

For the finale, two veteran author-storytellers, Celia Lotteridge and Rukhsana Khan, delivered tales of
wisdom. Dim lighting and Lotteridge’s soft voice added warmth to her family story and helped the adult audience empathize with the story, while Khan’s favourite Persian folk tales filled the small basement with energy and laughter.

The Toronto Storytelling Festival (TSF) has existed since the 1970s and is the genre’s largest forum in the city. The East York festival, however, gave a chance to local tellers like Khan, who haven’t spoken at the TSF.

It also attracted audiences from across the GTA.
Storytelling enthusiast Gayle Mount doesn’t live in East York or go to church on a regular basis but appreciates the church’s initiative to integrate the community.
“It brings local people. People get to know each other at a venue like this,” Mount said. “It’s good to see a church doing it.”

Trish O’Reilly-Brennan, the festival’s producer and an artist, explained that the church has been holding other events to engage East York artists. She said she’s proud to be a “link” between the church and the local, non-church-going, creative community.
“We thought we could vitalize our church, by offering the space for the entire East York community,” O’Reilly-Brennan said. “It was also a positive and creative way to reinvigorate the church community at the same time.”

St. David’s began its Open Door programs three years ago, incorporating East York neighbours. Non-church community members have established a backyard vegetable garden, sponsored by the Home Depot at Gerrard Square. Results go to the Eastview Community Centre food bank.


This article had been published on the East York Observer April 6 edition.





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