Story Week 2020: Performing diversity

Story Week 2020: Performing diversity

Diverse voices will be brought to a global, online audience at Story Week 2020. The program, which is run by Word Travels, provides a platform for artists to perform identity and culture.

Festival director Miles Merrill notes that it is important to have spaces where people can share stories. He says that performance is something that is “immediate, accessible and powerful.”

As an African American man, Miles understands the importance of having a space to express cultural identity and experience.

“We as consumers are stuck with what the major networks and platforms for media deliver to us,” Miles says.

Festival director Miles Merrill

“[We must take] responsibility for our storytelling and create our own platforms as people sitting outside of that majority population, which is undoubtedly in Australia, white.”

This need for diversity in media has always been the main mission of Word Travels.

“Story Week and Word Travels is all about empowering people who aren’t on Neighbours, Friends or Home and Away,” Miles remarks.

“It’s abhorrent to me that we can have these incredibly popular television shows with no representation of the diversity that exists.”

Featured artist Wani Le Frere

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Story Week will feature spoken-word artists, poets and performers both from Australia and internationally. Among them is Somalian refugee Hani Abdile.

Miles says that Hani has “had such a harrowing and incredible journey that some of us can’t even fathom.”

Hani travelled by land from Somalia to Indonesia and then by boat to Australia. After the boat crashed, Hani was sent to Christmas Island and spent 13 months in detention, all before the age of 20.

While in detention, Hani wrote poems that she shared to Facebook, empowering herself through words. After her release, she moved to Sydney and completed a workshop with Word Travels and has since received a temporary protection visa.

Featured artist Hani Abdile 

Unique challenges and stories like Hani’s show the importance and purpose of Story Week.

“We are often being put in a position where we have to fight to be heard,” Miles says.

Story Week 2020 will be running from November 6-14, 2020. Beginning with an opening night party on night one, Poetry Slam Finals, podcasts, events and workshops will take place daily throughout the week.

The program will feature poets from all over the world as well as other international literary arts organisations like Hear My Voice and Pomegranate. The program will also be linking with NAIDOC Week, which will run from November 8-15, 2020.

Priya Srinivasan from Mumbai-based organisation Pomegranate

Miles says that there is so much freedom with performance art and so many ways to tell a story.

To those interested in writing and performance Miles advises, “just write it and find a place to say it.”

Find out more about Story Week 2020 and how to buy tickets HERE 


Kellie Maloney

Kellie is studying a Bachelor of Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies at UTS. She has a passion for travelling and experiencing other cultures through music, film, art and food. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]