Wailau: Storytelling at UH Hilo

Wailau FAQ

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About the Event

What is Wailau?

Wailau is a storytelling event meant to build community. The first four episodes were staged remotely, but beginning in Fall 2022 Wailau has been presented in-person. Learn more about Wailau.

Why should I attend the live Wailau event instead of just waiting for videos to be released online?

Great question! Fall 2022's episode was our first live Wailau event after two years of Covid shutdowns. We hope you will attend in person, because this event is all about building community, and the best way to feel that communal energy is face-to-face and in the moment! We encourage you to come to the event to get the full experience, but we know that's not possible for every person. Visit our Wailau watch page for premieres or watch episodes that have already taken place by checking out the Wailau Archives.

How do I chat if there is an online premiere?

With the livestream, go to the watch page on the date and time of the premiere. The event will begin after the clock counts down. If you click on YouTube in the lower right corner of the video window, you should be able to chat with the Wailau hosts and others watching. Live chat shows up to the right of the video player. After the live stream ends, it will be archived and viewers can replay the video.

How to Be a Storyteller

Who is eligible to be a Wailau storyteller?

In keeping with our name, Wailau, "the gathering of many waters," we aim to showcase five storytellers at each event - a UH Hilo faculty member, staff member, student, alum, and a UH Hilo community member. We welcome former UH Hilo faculty and staff and storytellers of all ages. If you have a story to tell that fits the Wailau theme, please submit your story!

May I nominate a storyteller?

We suggest that you send them information about Wailau and urge them to send in their story. If you feel they need a nudge, you are welcome to email us with their contact information and why you think they are a fit for our theme, and we will reach out with encouragement.

How are stories selected?

UH Hilo's English Club is a key Wailau project partner. Students from the club determine the Wailau themes and review story submissions. They are looking for diverse voices that fit the theme in interesting ways.

What story length are you looking for?

Stories should be about 5 minutes long with a one minute grace period (we can be flexible if the content requires a bit more time). Please read your story aloud to judge its length and determine if you need to make adjustments.

What are the expectations of Wailau storytellers?

Our goal is for stories to be about five minutes long with a one minute grace period (we can be flexible depending on content that requires more time). We expect each storyteller to tell their story, not read it. That said, we offer storytellers support. If storytellers opt in, free coaching is available by Krystal Meisel and Mary Moody from Hawaii Lit Production Co and from our own Performing Arts faculty. Prior to filming, each storyteller will attend an onstage meeting and run through of their story so they are acquainted with the space and process.

You will be asked to submit your story in writing or in audio/video, so we can get a feel for your content and style and we are able to curate the highest quality event. If your story is selected for the live event, we expect that the content of your submitted story will remain about the same and be about the same length as your final talk on stage.

Storytelling Tips

Basic Tips

  • Know your story and have fun! Memorize an outline of your story, not each and every word. Tell your story, don't read it.
  • Start your story strong. Grab the listener's attention early and get across why this story is important to you, or even them. Make the audience care.
  • Remember that passion is contagious, so don’t be afraid to share yours.
  • Be yourself. If you try to be something or someone you’re not, you’ll fail to gain the trust of your audience.
  • Finish strong. The last line of your story should be clear in your head before you start.
  • Honor the time limit that you are given for your story. The longer the story, the more the listener has to organize, comprehend, and remember. Talk for too long and your audience will find ways to distract themselves.
  • Use our stage to practice civility and respect. Don't include racism, homophobia, misogyny, or any form of hate speech. Storytelling should celebrate diversity and build community, not tear it down.
  • Practice. Record yourself delivering your story and see if you are using your body to help deliver your message. It's helpful to do a practice run in front of a group of people and ask for feedback on both content and delivery. Doing this makes the day of the event or the day of taping easier - after all, you've already done it once and learned from the experience!

Other Ways to be Involved in Wailau

How can I be involved, but not as a storyteller?

Thank you for your interest in joining the team! We are always looking to match skills and experience with the varying needs of staging this event. First, we need audience members and for YOU to help us spread the word. We also welcome skilled volunteers to help with storyteller coaching, thematic art, video captioning, as well as general help with set-up and clean-up for the live events. Please email Justina Mattos if you want to get involved.