Creative Arts, School of Liberal Arts, English

Students needed to talk, to tell their stories about a year unlike any other.

2020 Tales is a storytelling project by the College’s Creative Arts department in which 12 Siena students share a personal story from their lives - something that happened to them in 2020, or a previous experience on which they had time to reflect during the shutdown.

“In this year of crisis and upheaval, the students used storytelling as a means to celebrate our common humanity and to connect with others,” said Krysta Dennis, Ph.D., creative arts producer, who directed the effort. “Together, they created a mosaic of stories representing what it was like to live through these times.”

The idea came from a summer brainstorming session about how faculty could best serve their students and help them create meaningful performance work during the pandemic. The 12 participants and crew initially gathered - with masks - in a circle to workshop their stories with each other. Joshua Iddings, Ph.D., assistant professor of writing and communication, and Karin Lin-Greenberg, Ph.D., associate professor of English, provided input on the language and flow of storytelling. Denise Massman, M.F.A., professor of creative arts, helped the students figure out how to represent their stories visually.

Students choose their attire and settings for their individual videos, and discussed how best to present themselves to make their stories more impactful. 2020 Tales will be archived in the Standish Library. 

“The year was a hard and confusing one in which it was easy to feel alone. Hearing other’s stories and being able to relate on a personal level helped me and I'm sure others to feel less alone and anxious about everything.” 

Matt Gerrain '21, lead editor and camera operator

“It was amazing to hear so many perspectives on a year that undoubtedly will be remembered by everyone and affected each person so differently. The experience allowed me to learn the importance of individual narratives and the power they can hold for others. The project gave everyone an opportunity to process what this year has brought in a safe, productive, and creative manner, not only for those who told a story but also for those who will watch and possibly see a part of themselves or their own story being brought to light.”

Megan Stuart '22, stage manager