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Florida Matters: Story Days In Tampa Bay

Story Days in Tampa Bay recently hosted its fifth annual festival in St. Petersburg. This week on Florida Matters we hear excerpts from a performance  that reflects on Hurricanes Irma and Maria a year after the storms.

Story Days in Tampa Bay is an annual week-long festival that uses music, dance, theater and art to tell the stories of people in our community. It's hosted by the nonprofit Your Real Stories.

One of the events at this year's festival was called "Irma and Maria: Hurricane Stories One Year Later." It featured stories from survivors of the two storms told in the style of theatrical journalism.

Your Real Stories' Executive Director Lillian Dunlap and Artistic Director Jaye Sheldon spent hours interviewing people affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

They used the interviews to craft scripts which actors performed in front of an audience at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg. This week we hear excerpts from that performance.

We hear the story of St. Petersburg resident Jonathan French, who worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration when the storms hit. His story was performed by actor Christopher Rutherford.

We also hear the story of Hurricane Maria survivor Leslie Diaz, who moved to Tampa Bay after the storm. Actress Jessy Julianna performed Leslie's story in Spanish, while actress Isabel Natera read the English translation.

Following the storytelling performances, actors discussed the experience and reflected on their own hurricane stories. We hear excerpts from that conversation, as well as part of a spontaneous play they performed based on an audience questionnaire.

Other performers featured in the show include Roxanne Faye and Cranston Cumberbatch.

You can hear Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham speak with Your Real Stories Executive Director Lillian Dunlap about the inspiration for this festival on our podcast Florida Matters More.

Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters,WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.
Robin is Senior Editor at WUSF, spearheading the station's podcasting initiatives and helping to guide the vision for special reporting projects and creative storytelling. She created The Zest, the station's podcast that's all about food, which she continues to host and serve as senior producer.