When you enter the StoryCorps MobileBooth, it’s the absence of noise that you notice first –an oddity in the midst of a bustling urban center. The bullet trailer was intentionally designed to be a serene space for the thousands of participants who enter its doors. StoryCorps recruits everyday citizens to record their oral histories, reflecting on the big events and small that shape us as people. So far, they have collected around 90,000 stories, each one now preserved in the Library of Congress archive.
Emily Janssen is the Site Manager for StoryCorps, and she’s been rolling through the country with the MobileBooth, getting to know the soul of America in our beautiful campus. “The Center has proven to be a wonderful place which is really active,” Janssen says. “There are young people from the school, and families having lunch and engagement pictures being taken – all around, people are encountering each other here.”
Sylvia Komatsu, Chief Content Officer for KERA/KXT, explains that it was love at first sight when the StoryCorps was investigating where to put down recording roots. “When StoryCorps came to Dallas to scout locations, we toured several sites across the city. They loved the idea of being in the heart of the Dallas Arts District, and were thrilled when they saw Sammons Park and all of the superb amenities it offered,” she said. “We couldn’t ask for a more generous and gracious host for the StoryCorps MobileBooth – and thank the AT&T Performing Arts Center for being such a fabulous partner.
The Center was happy to collaborate on the project, because the organization views the creation and recitation of stories as a powerful performance tool. “Storytellers were some of the earliest, most revered performance artists in history,” says Doug Curtis, president and CEO of the Center. “We are carrying on a tradition that has preserved culture for eons, and that is central to the arts.”
In recent years, in large part thanks to organizations like StoryCorps or initiatives like Oral Fixation, which the Center is proud to host, storytelling has made a resurgence in the mainstream public. Janssen says its a timely and fortunate trend.
“People are hungry to feel heard and to be seen and understood,” Janssen explains. In her time in the booth, she’s come to see how stories are a mix of therapy and art for participants. “People today, like in every generation, are grappling with a lot. And the act of sitting down to reflect and craft your own story, it allows you to understand your own narrative.”
Janssen reflects on the stories that were told in her time in Dallas. “It’s leaving an incredible legacy of living,” she says. “Whenever people leave the booth, I always tell them that I hope that they continue the conversation.”
The Center is committed to being a gathering place, where people can be enriched by experiences like StoryCorps. If you would like to catch up on some local stories, visit the StoryCorps website and please consider donating to the Center so that we can continue to bring in free, quality programming.