April 24, 2018

Discover the power of our stories

Author Cheryl Foggo hosts workshop Apr. 26 on harnessing memory-based writing skills and exploring the potential of storytelling
Cheryl Foggo on set.

Cheryl Foggo on set.

Shaun Robinson, courtesy of the National Film Board

Accomplished author, screenwriter, playwright and historian Cheryl Foggo has always been a storyteller. And according to her, all of us are. “I genuinely believe we are hardwired to understand things through story,” she explains. “Even my two-year-old grandson experiences and makes sense of the world through the stories he tells.” In order to encourage UCalgary students, faculty and staff to find and explore the complexities of their own personal stories and the mediums through which they are told, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure (ODEPD) and the Black History Heritage Concert will be presenting a workshop with Foggo on April 26.

As a descendant of the black pioneers in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Foggo’s storytelling is rooted in her heritage. She was born and raised in Calgary alongside the common tropes of cowboys and prairie skies, but has always been connected to her roots. “Having a black community was vital to my sense of well-being,” she says. “It also really helped me to understand the richness of other racialized groups and different cultural practices.”

The company of Cheryl Foggo's play, John Ware Revisited.

The company of Cheryl Foggo's play, John Ware Revisited.

Marc J Chalifoux courtesy of Workshop West Playwrights Theatre Company

Foggo has seen the need for more stories and historical records of the black community in the prairies, and has spent her career bringing key names and issues to light with fiction and non-fiction writing, theatre and film. Her play, John Ware Reimagined, won the 2015 Writers Guild of Alberta Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama and was produced most recently at Edmonton’s Workshop West Theatre Company in November, 2017. In 2019 she will be releasing a documentary film about John Ware through the National Film Board, and shortly thereafter will be publishing a book.

The wide range of media Foggo uses in her work is enriching for both herself and her audiences. “I love accessing different aspects of the same story through different media. Film is visual, theatre is visceral, direct and personal, and prose allows you to become almost the god of a world — you can do anything, go anywhere.”

In her workshop, Foggo hopes to share the powerful impact of storytelling on society and in our daily lives, and will introduce participants to different ways they can share their voice through publishing, performance and production. She encourages particularly people from communities whose stories are often untold, to participate.