The Button Factory hosts community folktales, anecdotes and music

Photo by Diane Olivia Taylor

Presented by the Baden Storytellers’ Guild, Stories Aloud is an event hosted at Button Factory Arts the second Friday of every month from Sept until June.

These nights are intended to showcase the medium of traditional oral storytelling, encouraging audience members to participate and share their own tales if they feel inspired to do so.

The atmosphere at Button Factory is warm and inviting, complete with an inescapable coziness that makes it feel like you’re stepping into someone’s home, as opposed to a quirky community art centre.

On May 12, I had the opportunity to sit in the Stories Aloud evening. It was quickly apparent that these nights are popular with a crowd who attends them regularly, many of them addressing each other by name.

The facilitators endeavor to make every person feel welcome however, so after brief introductions from newcomers, everyone seemed to be completely comfortable.

Five stories were read before the intermission, each one entirely different from the last.

With a diverse range in content and style, the women who shared these pieces were clearly well versed in their craft.The break was initiated with casual conversation and everyone milling around the room with mugs of apple cider.

Anecdotes were my favourite story of choice, adding a level of depth and closeness between the speakers and the audience. 

The intimacy that could be felt from the event was inescapable, the small size of the group worked in favour of this, and encouraged a level of relaxation that made the night more enjoyable.

Talking to the people there shed light on how much storytelling means to them and how they’ve truly integrated it into their lives.

The passion amongst them was palpable — from Judy Caulfield, who used storytelling extensively throughout her career as a teacher.

Mary McCullum Baldasaro, who has performed in various schools, libraries and festivals.

Commencing the second half of the evening led into song, an upbeat way of focalizing a story through the style of music, mixing up the styles in which each performance was led.

Anecdotes were my favourite story of choice, adding a level of depth and closeness between the speakers and the audience.

Carolyn Wilker shared heartfelt stories from her childhood about her father, proving that there is an immense amount of courage and talent involved in storytelling — specifically when sharing the ones closest to you.

Every speaker had their own unique element and story to bring to the table, highlighting different stories that I likely would not have known about or heard outside of that room.

This was an aspect which many of the attendees there seemed to thrive on, as there was no telling what story could be told next.

The night capped off with self proclaimed “storyteller addict” Neil, who was one of my personal favourites to watch and listen to.

The way he spoke was so natural and content that it felt like he wasn’t even on a stage in front of a microphone.

Both funny and intriguing, he held the group’s attention in a way that seemed effortless.

Creating an atmosphere that feels like it’s taking place in someone’s living room isn’t an easy feat, but Stories Aloud accomplished just that.

It was an enjoyable, unique session that promoted complete inclusiveness and encouragement, allowing newcomers to feel welcomed and eager to return.

Storytelling is an artform that deserves attention, something which Button Factory Arts houses quite well.

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