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FROM WHERE I STAND

In From Where I Stand, the Orpheum Theatre Group undergoes deep collaboration with participants from a community or school organization who share their personal stories from their point of view. By collaborating in an artistic process, participants bring their individual perspectives together to create an original performance to share. By providing a platform and resources, we seek to elevate stories in our community and encourage dialogue and transformation through the power of the arts.

 

"From Where I Stand asks everyone (storytellers, teaching artists, and audiences alike) to listen with curiosity and share in what makes us human; both what makes us the same and what makes us beautifully different. When we listen that deeply to the real experiences of our community, we are taking a stand — we are demonstrating that the voices of our community are essential to who we are." — Taylor St. John, Director of Education and Engagement

In 2023-2024, From Where I Stand was made in partnership with Middle College High School.


Please note that Storyfest is created and shared by the participants you see, in their own words and voices, from their own points of view and the Orpheum Theatre Group embraces all stories. Some material contains mature themes.


Participant Perspectives

“This is my story. I feel so good because what has been in all of us ladies all of these years, we’re finally going to be heard with no one passing judgement. I feel a load off my soul. This is the time for our stories to be heard.”

Elaine, Adult Participant from the Bickford Senior Center
(The Gospel According to Bickford, 2022)

 

“It makes me feel like I have a voice. It makes me feel like I can hear myself and everyone else can see me using my voice.”

Abyan, Youth Participant with the Refugee Empowerment Program
(My Family Is My Heart, 2022)

 

“I spent a lot of time not revealing myself to people. There’s people that have known me my entire who have never seen my express myself like this. I’m learning a lot about people who have been around me for years that I’ve seen in passing.”

Desi, Adult Participant from the Orange Mound Arts Council
(My Home/My Hood/My Sacred Haven, 2022)
“I felt like I had someone who was listening to me. When you are talking to other people and you know they are going to respect what you say, and they’re going to listen to you, and even be honest about what you are talking about. It gives you more motivation and makes you more stronger. Every day that I came here, I didn’t come out the same way I came. It made me feel like I was ready to take on anything in life.”

Bertrand, Youth Participant from the Refugee Empowerment Program
(Refugee Portraits, 2021)
“Being a part of From Where I Stand and sharing my story means that I am doing something right. It is a blessing to be able to lift my voice and extend it as far as possible to be able to help someone else who may need to hear what is being said."

Adrian, Youth Participant from Overton High School Partner
(Lost and Found, 2020)

Previous Performances:

2024
Faith It Til You Make It showing 7 high school students telling stories of faith on stage at the Halloran Centre

2024: Faith It 'Til You Make It, created in partnership with Middle College High School

Seven high school students share stories of how to balance family, friendship, and faith in a world of fantasy, fun, and familiarity. Meet Aliyah, Christian, David, Janiya, Jeremiah, Kendall, and Zion as they share what happens when their faith gets tested, family bonds start feeling more like burdens than blessings, and friendships leave them feeling more shocked than electric. Will their faith be marked absent or present?

To Make A Love Story Short showing 8 high school students on stage at the Halloran Centre.

2024: To Make A Love Story Short, created in partnership with Middle College High School

To love and be loved can be one of the most exhilarating rides of a lifetime. Love can encompass a spectrum of feelings and emotions — including struggle. How can a person push past their struggle to love? Does the love fade away or do you allow your love to grow and deepen in the roots of struggle? Open your hearts to Corinthian, Faith, Haji, Kaylee, Khalil, Kimora, Libertie, and Malek – eight students from Middle College who share their strength and vulnerability as they share the struggles they have encountered by trying to love.


2023

2023: Tilling of the Heart, created in partnership with Middle College High School

What happens when memory lane forces you to grieve the person you’ve lost while growing the person you once were? Do you weed out the parts of you that you’ve become so comfortable with, or do you allow life to plant new seeds to keep growing through the pain? Meet Alex, Amaya, Courtni, Dalandis, Emani, Joshua, Katelyn, Laniah, Nick, Ryan, Tyler, and Yan as they share true stories about moments that made them better, memories that made them vulnerable, and hearts that made them grow.

2023: In the Midst of Discoveries, created in partnership with Middle College High School

How do you make space to find yourself in a world that places assumptions on you and tries to tell you who to be? What does the journey of self-discovery look like and what can it open your eyes to along the way? Meet Addyson, Akayla, Ameer, Brea, De’Airese, Ethan, Estoria, Gabby, and Jayden – students from Middle College who share their personal stories of growth as they take on life and find their power!

2023: Tryin’ Times and I'm Still Here, created in partnership with Creative Aging and the Bickford Senior Center

What does it mean to be born a Black woman in the American South during the critical fight for civil rights? What are the many roads of faith and wisdom that call us and keep us in Memphis? Meet Barbara, Carolyn, Daisy, Elaine, Geraldine, Jean, Lottie, Lydia, and Mary – women from the Bickford Senior Center as they take us on a cultural ride through segregation, integration, and celebration. 

2023: Stepping Out of the Shadows, created in partnership with the Refugee Empowerment Program

How do you stand up to a bully? What does it mean to hide from your feelings or even yourself? How can you be proud of your differences? Meet Abyan, Alice, Aline, Carine, D’Jadda, Ibrahim, Isaac, Mariam, Musa, Nyawech, Peace, and Radia – students and staff from the Refugee Empowerment Program who share stories of facing bullies, standing up for what you believe in, and loving yourself.

2023: Blessings through the Ups & Downs, created in partnership with the Orange Mound Arts Council

What can over five hundred years of combined wisdom teach us about life's ups and downs, living, learning and loving through it all? Meet Barbara, Darlene, Desi, Gail, Hazell, L.H. and LaTrina- spirited seniors, friends, and storytellers from Orange Mound Arts Council whose stories of struggle, success, and celebration of life will help to light our way!


2022

2022: Crash. Crumble. Conquer., created in partnership with Middle College High School.

What happens when your life seems to hit a wall or obstacle so big that you completely crash? Do you give yourself space to crumble or do you rise to conquer the challenge? Meet Matthew, Jermani, Showen, Kelby, Mya, Phalon, Kellie, Contariyon, and Jordan – students from Middle College High School as they share true stories of life crashing down on them and how they overcame its challenges to conquer the world and succeed!

2022: Figuring Life Out, created in partnership with Middle College High School.

What does it mean to come of age? Meet Edrionna, KJ, Kaleb, Felix, Lily, Jonathan, Nigel, Olivia, Judeah, and Jasmine—students from Middle College High School as they share true stories of how they’ve navigated growing up, figuring out who they want to be, and finding peace.

2022: The Gospel According to Bickford, created in partnership with Creative Aging and the Bickford Community Center.

What does it mean to put your trust and faith in God? Meet Elaine, Mary, Daisy, Flora, Lottie, Barbara, and Jean--senior citizens from the Bickford Community Center as they share their stories of loss, love, and what it means to live each day with gratitude.

2022: My Family Is My Heart, created in partnership with the Refugee Empowerment Program.

What makes a family a family? Is it blood relation? Is it culture? Is it love? Meet Abyan, Dowlai, Lorraine, Ibrahim, D’Jadda, Carine, Nyawech, Dina, Mariam, Leah, Flora, and Wailes—an intergenerational group of refugees who tell stories of how sacrifice, separation, and joy have kept them connected to their families of origin while creating newfound families here in Memphis.

2022: My Hood/My Home/My Sacred Haven, created in partnership with the Orange Mound Arts Council and the Center for Transforming Communities.

What was it like to grow up in historic Black neighborhoods before integration? Meet Barbara, Hazell, Mary, Gail, Desi, Darlene, and L.H.—elders from Orange Mound and South Memphis who share stories of the sacred Black neighborhoods that brought them up and what happened when those neighborhoods were systematically torn apart.


2021
From Where I Stand: Courageous

2021: Courageous, created in partnership with the Refugee Empowerment Program

Courageous explores stories of courage. How do you keep your dreams alive when faced with obstacles? What does it mean to face your fears to become your most true self? Youth storytellers Jeannelcia, Abdul, and Davida perform real stories of bravery and resilience in the face of adversity.

From Where I Stand: Refugee Portraits Podcast

2021: Refugee Portraits (PODCAST)

In partnership with the Refugee Empowerment Program this podcast asks us to look beyond the headlines and see the real people behind them. In March 2020, youth from R.E.P. were rehearsing a live storytelling performance, but when the pandemic hit, their performance was postponed…until now. Meet Natasha, Kowsar, Solange, Eunice, Bertrand, Layla, Ache, Hibo, and Nasteho as they share their real-life stories in their own words.

All 10 episodes are now available! Stream on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.


2020

2020: Lost and Found, created in partnership with Overton High School

During Virtual StoryFest 2020, Tyler, Arionna, Monte, Nivea, Adrian, Sheniah, Klenisha, Maze, and Jazsmine told stories in their own words. This filmed storytelling performance (in partnership with Overton High School) explores stories of being lost and found. What does it mean to be lost? What does it mean to lose ourselves, relationships, and ideas as we develop? What does it mean to find your passion, your friends, your sense of identity?


2019

2019: Stories of Home, created in partnership with the Refugee Empowerment Program

Youth stories of HOME: Where is home? How is home defined by people and geography? How are our identities tied to the places we call home? What does it mean to leave home? How do we treat people who have left their homelands? How do we infuse culture and community into new homelands?


From Where I Stand

2019: From Where I Stand

From Where I Stand – Our inaugural theatrical storytelling initiative in partnership with Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group, Facing History and Ourselves, the Refugee Empowerment Program, Stax Music Academy, and Shelby County Schools.

 

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