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Gemma’s Gem of the Week: The Power of Storytelling

Gemma’s Gem of the Week: The Power of Storytelling

Many of us in our childhood years grew up around storytelling. Did you have a favorite story that always struck a chord? Ever connect so deeply to a specific fairytale or character that you perhaps saw yourself in them? From picturing vibrant characters spring to life and dance across the pages in colorful silhouettes in The 12 Dancing Princesses, to sketching dragons and daring sword fights in my spare time at school, and yearning to be a badass like Kim Possible or Atomic Betty, the power of storytelling has kept magic alive in my life. Here, creativity is blossoming and thriving at its finest, while storytelling presents us with endless opportunities:

  • We have the ability to develop stronger problem solving skills.
  • We can learn to navigate real-life problems and challenges through a creative foundation
  • We can build deeper relationships through exchanging stories
  • We are able to keep the memories of our loved ones alive
  • We can learn to simply have more fun
What were some of your favorite stories growing up?

The power of storytelling is the reason I’m an artist. If I hadn’t been introduced to live theatre through pantomimes, plays, films, and even small school productions, I might never have discovered my love of acting and writing. Years ago, my Aunt Mary surprised my brother and I with tickets to see our first Broadway musical, Wicked. I still get chills thinking about the swelling chords of the orchestra for the opening number, “No One Mourns the Wicked,” then breathlessly watching Jackie Burns soar in “Defying Gravity.” When it comes to the exposition and rising action, the protagonist is oftentimes faced with an array of challenges that require necessary problem-solving in order to reach the climax, falling action, and final resolution. For example: Elphaba is faced with the challenges of being an outcast for being green, lacking understanding over her powers, and being unfairly villainized, blamed, and targeted. As the audience, we’re given the opportunity of seeing whether or not we can pick up clues that’ll pieces together these mysteries and challenges alongside the characters.

What moved me was witnessing a story that felt real and relatable from characters who were never perfect – even if they claimed to be. This green glittering array of magic, music, talent, and vulnerability sparked a chain reaction of creative motivation that greatly influenced my life moving forward, and I knew I would carry this story with me after leaving the Gershwin Theatre.

Witnessing others express vulnerability in their truths, (both non-fictional and fictional characters/people), inspires me to do the same. If I’ve learned anything from writing, it’s the power of navigating difficult problems and challenges, and the ability to transform them into beautiful works of art. Elton John expressed in Kate Bush’s documentary how her music helped him through his battle with depression. Knowing that there are other people who have been just as scared, just as lost, and just as vulnerable, helps make this world feel a little less lonely, and a little more welcoming.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrival gates at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion…love actually is all around.” – Love, Actually

Storytelling also allows us to keep the memories of our loved ones alive. After experiencing such a taxing year, we have witnessed folks undergo more loss than ever. A common comforting pattern I’ve seen folks coping with grief use is exchanging stories about various moving moments with their loved ones. As someone who has experienced grief many times, some far more brutal than others, I can absolutely account for the sheer comfort that storytelling can bring. Whether that’s sharing the time a peacock flew onto my grandma’s head at Walton Gardens in England, watching her eyes widen as she exclaimed “Oh!”, and then buying a peacock feather from the souvenir shop as a reminder of that day, or collectively sharing the good, the bad, the happy, sad – storytelling offers countless opportunities for grieving, connecting, and healing.

Every single day, we are surrounded by brand new stories. Every stranger we pass holds a story yet to be told. Every building, bus, and train hold histories and memories yet to be uncovered. The power of storytelling captures the ability to unlock newfound curiosity, while achieving a deeper understanding of humanity.

If you have any questions you would like me to answer, feel free to email me at, and they may be featured in next week’s article!


Gemma Farquhar is the writer of "Gemma's Gem of the Week" and author of "The Shape of Something New." She is passionate about the future of storytelling and welcomes all ages to her column.

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