Bronx Museum host Bronx Stories storyteller program

The Bronx Museum was the scene of a new storytelling series that is set to lend voices to people who seek to break down stereotypes about the borough they call home.

In what was hopefully the first of many in a series of evocative personal narratives presented called Bronx Stories at the Museum at 1040 Grand Concourse on Friday, March 18, Michele Carlo, Tom Lee, Will Lee, Rick Patrick, and Miriam Tabb all presented personal narratives of the best of the Bronx, at the same time shattering stereotypes and showcasing the diverse experiences.

The program of narratives from professional storytellers was preceded by a screening of the documentary “Richie Perez Watches Fort Apache: The Bronx,” which chronicles an activist’s campaign of negative depictions of blacks and Puerto Ricans in the Bronx in the early 1980s.

Bridget Bartolini, a programing intern at the museum who developed Bronx Stories, hopes that in the future, more audience members who are not professional storytellers will participate in the open microphone portion of the program.

During this segment, the general public can tell their own stories and then participate in a planned workshop that can help them turn out well-crafted personal narratives.

“I wanted to have a storytelling program because people think in terms of stories, and stories are a good way for people to connect to one another and to people who may be coming from another perspective, as well as helping them to connect with works of art,” Bartolini said.

“The Bronx has a bad rep, and there are still persistent images of the Bronx of the past, with burning buildings, crime and violence, but we are celebrating all of the positive aspects of the borough,” she added.

The idea behind the presentations is that people will visit the museum and come away with a view of the Bronx that is different from those traditionally offered, hearing about what the borough means to people from different walks of life, Bartolini said.

“We are also going to sign up people who are not professional storytellers but who would like to tell their own stories and then have a workshop helping those interested craft stories to make presentations as part of a pilot program,” Bartolini said.

The stories presented by professional storytellers featured the Bronx as a character, such as Miriam Tabb’s narrative, who is an advocate for several locally-based community groups and organizations like The Bronx Museum of the Arts and Bronx Lebanon Medical Center.

Her personal narrative, entitled ‘Winner by Default,’ speaks of her experiences as a student at Bronx Community College where she became the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, The Communicator.

Tabb had been volunteering at the museum and she felt that this was another way of giving back.

“Using the Bronx as a setting, I am speaking about how either by default or by earning it, is always a great moment to know you are a winner,” Tabb said.

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