Brogo storyteller shares her Iranian experience

Evita Hofstetter recently represented Australia at the 19th KANOON International Storytelling Festival in Tehran, Iran, where she was presented with a book by Persian poet Hafez. Picture: Alasdair McDonald
Evita Hofstetter recently represented Australia at the 19th KANOON International Storytelling Festival in Tehran, Iran, where she was presented with a book by Persian poet Hafez. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Evita Hofstetter says storytelling is a license to dream while you are awake.

The Brogo storyteller recently represented Australia at the 19th KANOON International Storytelling Festival in Tehran, Iran, and has a passion to “bring back the old, ancient form of storytelling”.

“You must love the story, and trust the story you are telling,” Ms Hofstetter said.

“Stories come to me when I try to make sense of the world.”

During her visit to Iran Ms Hofstetter spent time with storytellers from all over the world, and was moved by her experience in the country.

“Other delegates said they’d never been anywhere with such financial support for libraries,” she said.

“Writers are quite revered over there, so it was inspiring to see the value they give storytelling in their education.

“To be fully immersed for a week in stories from all over the world fills your soul.”

Her earliest memories of storytelling are of sitting by her grandmother in the mountains of Switzerland.

“I remember hearing stories of her life and folktales,” she said.

“There was always stories, whether we were outside picking berries or she was knitting.

“That is what storytelling is about, sharing knowledge.

“You look at our original people and their whole culture is based on telling stories,” she said.

Oddly enough the mascot for this year’s festival was a grandmother with knitting needles.

“All of the finalists said it reminded them of their grandmother,” she said with a smile.

Evita Hofstetter in Iran for the 19th KANOON International Storytelling Festival. Picture: Supplied

Evita Hofstetter in Iran for the 19th KANOON International Storytelling Festival. Picture: Supplied

“Storytelling is a very ancient way of communicating, and one of the beautiful things about it is you can paint pictures with your words.

“We are wired to receive stories.”

She remembers often staying up late reading stories to her brother before being told to be quiet and go to bed.

“There’s no point telling a story you don’t like,” she said.

“Stories always have layers that affect people in different ways.

“It helps create a strong bond between parents and children, one that never goes.

“Stories are powerful, and I have a strong respect for our first nation people and the stories they have to tell,” she said.

Ms Hofstetter is also a human rights advocate, who has raised awareness around the conditions in detention centres and the negative effects of detention on asylum seekers.

“I use storytelling and wisdom stories to change peoples lives,” she said.

“There’s plenty of stories that teach people empathy and tolerance.

“You have a responsibility as a storyteller to ethical, because the spin doctors are good storytellers too.”