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The Process Series' Storytelling Festival aims to bring people together

DTH Photo Illustration. The Process Series partners with UNC's Department of American Studies to present a Storytelling Festival.

Showcasing a diverse group of storytellers, The Process Series invites people back into the magical world of storytelling. "Remembrance and Renewal", a storytelling festival that The Process Series is producing along with UNC's Department of American Studies, will be livestreamed from Feb. 17 until Feb. 21. 

Heather Tatreau, the producer of The Process Series and a lecturer at UNC, said the series gives artists the opportunity to share new stories and even stories that are not entirely complete.

“What we offer differently is that it's a work in process,” Tatreau said. “The understanding for the artist and the audience going into it is that we're kind of in this together to look at it and see what's working and maybe what could be done a little bit differently before we have a finished product.”

Tatreau said the artists and audience enjoy the experience because the artists get valuable feedback before their work is completed, and the audience members get to be a part of the process. 

While the series will be held virtually, it will still include audience and storyteller collaboration online. Tatreau did not intend for the event to be online, but she appreciates that more people have the opportunity to experience it now. 

“I think it's really important at this point, especially in our history in America, is just to hear those stories that so many different people, especially marginalized people in our country have not had a voice, and to really step back and listen,” Tatreau said. “And really appreciate where people come from.”

Joseph Megel, the artistic director of The Process Series, said many of the stories are connected to social justice and human rights and are wrapped up in issues of identity, race, class and culture. 

“I think the story is the most powerful way in which we really get to see each other,” Megel said. “Both again from cultural differences but also from interconnectedness, and how stories sort of humanize us all.”

Milbre Burch, one of the featured storytellers, will be presenting a character monologue from the point of view of a woman convicted of murdering her abusive husband to discuss intimate partner violence. 

Burch feels it is important to use stories to share messages, especially since people remember stories. 

“Our brains are now really wired for narrative as the memorable way for us to take in information, sort it out, and store it with meaning,” Burch said. “So why not devote yourself to the most effective way to communicate with people, especially if you're trying to do it for the betterment of a culture." 

Daniel Reyes, the featured student storyteller and a master's student in folklore, is sharing his past trauma through his performance in words, personal documentary archives and movement. 

“Storytelling can really lead to understanding,” Reyes said. "I'm a veteran, I'm from a Latinx community, I’m from Texas; there's a lot of stories I feel I can contribute. So I felt it was important to have my voice heard.”

He said it wasn't until he came to the University that he started to understand trauma’s impact on peoples’ lives. Resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services and Megel’s advanced performance class have helped Reyes further explore his trauma. 

He hopes people who have seen his performance are able to reflect on how people may have impacted those around them, and how others have impacted them in return. 

“I feel that maybe through this performance that we can look at ourselves and our own lives and try to step back,” Reyes said. “It's more ask questions of how can we see the humanity in others, and how can we be more mindful in how we engage with others.”

Megel knows storytelling is a great way to bring people together during a time when people are so divided. 

“In my experience, in putting this festival together, and talking to these different storytellers, they're phenomenal people, all of them, who care deeply about not only their art form, but care deeply about human experience," Megel said. "And use the art form as a way of lifting it for all of us."

Viewers must reserve tickets in advance to receive the streaming link for performances.

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