Wailau: Storytelling at UH Hilo

Wailau FAQ


About the Event

What is Wailau?

Wailau is a storytelling event meant to build community. It is currently being staged remotely, but we hope Wailau will be an in-person event in the future. Learn more about Wailau.

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

Great question! While all of our storytellers' talks will eventually make it online, the live event will include content and interactive experiences that will only be made available via the live event - like interacting with our storytellers and hosts via live chat on You Tube (see below). We encourage you to tune in to get the full experience. Visit our Wailau watch page for premieres or to watch episodes that have already taken place.

How do I chat during the event?

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.

Storyteller Applications

Who is eligible to apply 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 faculty member, UH staff member, UH student, UH alum, and a community member. We welcome former UH faculty and staff and storytellers of all ages. If you have a story to tell that fits the Wailau theme, please apply!

May I nominate a storyteller?

We suggest that you send them information about Wailau and urge them to apply. If you feel they need a nudge before they will apply, 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 storyteller applications evaluated?

UH Hilo's English Club is a key Wailau project partner. Students from the club determine the Wailau themes and review storyteller applications. 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.

May I still apply to be a storyteller if I am unable to travel to UH Hilo?

Yes, we are accepting applications from those unable to attend a taping on the stage. Self-taped stories are welcome.

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 you to tell your story, not read it. When you apply 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. We expect that aside from minor changes, the story you submit when applying will remain about the same and be about the same length as your final talk on stage. Because we are unable to host in-person events at this time, we will tape stories on stage in advance of the premiere. If you are unable to attend a taping on stage, you may self-tape your story for the final event (see details below). We do hope that our storytellers are able to participate in the premiere of the event online, interacting and answering the questions of the audience via live chat.

I have been chosen as a storyteller, but cannot travel to tell my story on UH Hilo's stage. How do I submit my story?

The guidelines for self-taping are as follows:

  • Backdrop: Try to film in front of a blank wall, a curtain, or a sheet (ironed and hung up on your wall). Backdrop should be a solid color if possible, with little or nothing to distract the viewer from you. If you have a choice in backdrop colors, choose a color that fits the mood of the piece (unless guidelines have specified a particular color).
  • Camera placement: use a solid surface so the camera doesn’t move. Position the camera at eye-level in horizontal ("landscape") format so it is wide, not tall.
  • Framing: Unless movement is integral to your story, it is best to frame yourself in a “medium shot” (waist-up) so you have a little room to move, but the viewers can see your facial expressions and hear you clearly. (Remember, they’ll probably be viewing you through a little rectangle just a few inches wide!)
  • Lighting: The light source should be behind the camera, pointing at you, so YOU are clearly visible.
  • Clothing: Should be appropriate for your story and should be solid in color, without stripes, patterns, or logos. It should not be the same color as your backdrop or clash with your backdrop (for example: no green clothing against a red backdrop!)
  • Special Considerations: Please begin your video by telling us your name and the title of your story. If you plan to use any special makeup or other items, rehearse on-camera with so you can see what this looks like.

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, and video editing. When we are able to stage Wailau in-person, we will certainly have other needs. Please email Kathleen Baumgardner if you want to get involved.