The Cicada story slams are collecting Hepburn Shire's diverse stories

SHARING STORIES: Community storyteller Anne E Stewart is working on The Cicada story slams. Photo: Dylan Burns
SHARING STORIES: Community storyteller Anne E Stewart is working on The Cicada story slams. Photo: Dylan Burns

Daylesford’s local storyteller Anne E Stewart is working on a project to tell the diverse stories of the people living within Hepburn Shire. 

The Cicada aims to collect and record the personal stories of the Hepburn Shire community.

Ms Stewart came up with the idea for a story slam when she and former Hepburn Shire Councillor Rod May went to see The Moth story slams in Brooklyn.

Ms Stewart has hosted a number of workshops during which she has assisted people to come up with ideas of personal stories they can share during the slams. 

“We are trying to up-skill people with storytelling,” Ms Stewart said. “The range of stories we have had so far has been incredible.”

“Some of the stories have been humorous. It doesn’t matter what type of story it is, as long as it is in keeping with the theme and tells the story of a journey a person has been on.”

Each story slam focuses on a different theme, with storytellers being given five minutes to share a personal story in an engaging way, without notes or props. The themes for the eight different story slam events highlight the diversity of the people who live within the shire. 

The range of stories we have had so far has been incredible.

Anne E Stewart

So far, there have been two story slams on the themes of Change and Chance, which was hosted in collaboration with Daylesford’s Words in Winter festival, as well as another slam which focused on the Spring Equinox. 

The next story slam will focus on the theme of birds, which will honour the Dja Dja Wurrung, who have told stories of birds including Bunjil the eagle and Waa the crow for thousands of years. 

Other themes will include stories of the mineral springs, food and agriculture, local heroes, queer stories and ecology. 

The Cicada story slams will culminate in a grand finale where heat winners vie to take home the Rodney Maurice May Storytelling Trophy.

Ms Stewart said telling stories through spoken word was a growing phenomenon. 

“Spoken word has taken off everywhere and it is still growing. There are people having these kinds of events all over the place.The thing we wanted to do was to chronicle the history of the Hepburn Shire. The main thing is to get people to tell stories locally so we can record and collect them to develop a sense of community that can sometimes get lost in a tourist town.”

All stories are being recorded for a podcast which will be broadcast on Hepburn Community Radio.