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Hakaya Festival brings together storytellers to share regional folktales, heritage

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Oct 30,2021 - Last updated at Dec 05,2021

Members of the audience listen to a storytelling session at the Hashemite Plaza in Amman as part of the 14th edition of Hakaya Festival, which kicked off on Friday (Photo courtesy of Hakaya Festival Facebook page)

AMMAN — The 14th edition of Hakaya Festival, organised by Al Balad Theatre and the Arab Education Forum to celebrate the art of storytelling, kicked off on Friday at the Hashemite Plaza in Amman.

The opening ceremony, lead by Shalabieh Al Hakawatieh, a Jordanian storyteller, was followed by narrations from four storytellers from Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

Abed Tarayrah, a Palestinian storyteller, told The Jordan Times: “Storytelling for me is a way to remember, preserve, and pass on Palestine’s heritage and identity”. 

Bahaa Tulbah from Egypt performed a traditional folk song of Upper Egyptian origins.

“It brings me joy when, after I’ve told a story, someone from the audience tells me that they too have once lived through the emotions I conveyed,” Tulbah told The Jordan Times.

“Whether it’s love, loss, or longing, these shared experiences make people feel less alone,” he added.

Khalid Al Naanaa from Lebanon said that the art of storytelling plays an essential role in “cultivating imagination”.

Naanaa also added that he always makes sure to pass on traditional stories from his Palestinian heritage everywhere he goes.

Wi’aam Al Khous, a Syrian storyteller, said she came to Jordan “carrying stories from Syria and will go back bearing stories from Jordan”.

“This process of exchanging stories helps people understand each other better and plants a spirit of affinity among them,” Khous added.

Yazan Abu Saleem, a Jordanian storyteller who mostly focuses on educational topics targeting children, also performed.

“Storytelling broadens children’s mental faculties, allowing them to create their own worlds and imagine the story in their own way which is something that TV can’t achieve,” Abu Saleem said.

Over the course of eight days, nine storytellers will tour Amman, Madaba, Mafraq, and Irbid to tell stories from Syria, Palestine, Jordan and of global heritage, said Sanad Abu Assaf, the coordinator of the festival.

The festival will also feature excursions, seminars, evenings with storytellers and book releases, according to Abu Assaf.

This year, the third book in the “Timeless Tales” series will be released, featuring folk tales told by Syrian refugees, he added. 

“Under the motto of ‘Storytelling is for Everyone’, we tried to make as many stories as possible accessible for people with disabilities and hearing impairments,” he said.

The eight-day festival runs until November 5.

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