Everyone loves a good story.
This idea, a reality in the life of Fredericksburg storytelling group founder Anette Stjärnhjärta, prompted her to create Rappahannock Rap, which meets every month at LibertyTown Arts Workshop. The November event takes place Friday at 8 p.m.
Rappahannock Rap is a group where participants can share stories from their lives or experiences lasting up to eight minutes.
People tell stories revolving around a certain topic that changes from month to month. When Rappahannock Rap was formed in September, Stjärnhjärta said the theme was “New Beginnings”—symbolic to the formation of the group. In October, the topic was “Childhood Memories.”
This month, the theme will be “Thankful.”
Stjärnhjärta has been a member of The Virginia Storytelling Alliance for a year and a half. The organization practices the art of oral storytelling in a supportive environment.
The Fredericksburg resident realized there weren’t many groups close to home that offered storytelling opportunities. She decided to create her own, and with the help of fellow storytellers Les Schaffer and Judith Onesty, they started the process of establishing Rappahannock Rap.
But they ran into the problem of where to hold events. Restaurants or pubs, while public places, would be too loud to enjoy storytelling, Stjärnhjärta said.
That was when LibertyTown Arts Workshop became an option. Now, after the gallery closes, the Rappahannock Rap opens the floor for storytelling.
“Everyone has a story,” Stjärnhjärta said. “I want people to recognize that [their] story has value and can inspire others.”
Stjärnhjärta said storytelling can be a way to take pride in one’s stories. Sharing stories out loud, to a supportive audience, can be a transformative experience. It can be a place where people learn that their joys, their pain, their mistakes and their triumphs don’t have to be faced alone.
“Talking about it takes the edge off,” she said.
Stjärnhjärta said the events provide a deep sense of community and are welcome to everyone. Rappahannock Rap creates a gathering where people can share similar experiences or gain empathy for others.
Even if someone is not comfortable telling a story, Stjärnhjärta still encourages people to attend.
“Storytellers need listeners,” she said.
Stjärnhjärta said there are no shortages of diversity in the storytelling. She has heard stories that have been shocking, humorous and heartfelt.
“Everyone loves a good story,” she said. “Especially if people like a true story.”