The FSA of Burbank Invites Locals To Share Their Stories For “Go There” Event

Analucia Prather speaks on stage during the Listen To Your Mother storytelling event in 2017. (photo courtesy of Susy Shearer)

The Family Service Agency of Burbank is now holding open submissions for Go There, a live storytelling event to take place on June 5 at The Colony Theatre.

Applications are due by April 15 for the gathering, which aims to unite locals by having them share their personal experiences with mental health. The FSA is looking for real-life accounts from participants that can be told on stage in seven minutes or less. These stories may range from heartfelt to humorous, and everything in between. 

The solidarity that results from opening up about mental wellness is a primary reason Producing Artistic Director Suzanne Weerts has presented FSA storytelling events to the community for seven past years. As the debut of Go There approaches, she says it will afford performers, both veteran and new, the opportunity to have their voices heard and connect with others.

“Giving community members the chance to share their stories is always my favorite part of this process,” Weerts said. “In each show, there has been a mix of seasoned storytellers and people who have never spoken into a mic in front of an audience before, and, without exception, the experience has been rewarding for the storytellers and moving for the audience.”

In this 2019 photo, Jules Ford performs at the Diversity: Stories of Connection in an Urban Jungle event. (photo courtesy of Susy Shearer)

The FSA is committed to hearing from a diverse group of storytellers for Go There. Weerts says the event team is able to help any newcomers to the stage prepare their stories, and performance pieces don’t need to be memorized for the show. Anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable with public speaking also has the option of submitting a blog post for the FSA website. These posts should likewise tell true stories related to mental wellness, and no posts over 1,500 words will be eligible for participation. 

In addition, tickets will go on sale in May for those who wish to attend Go There and watch the performances unfold in person. All proceeds from these sales will go towards the FSA’s beneficial programs, including counseling services, art, play and sound therapy, and transitional housing. Sponsors who are backing the show include Cusumano Real Estate Group, the Burbank Unified School District and the City of Burbank. 

Shari Wendt shares her story for Listen to Your Mother in 2016. (photo courtesy of Susy Shearer)

For Weerts, the reward of arranging such events arises from the revelatory moments experienced by attendees and performers. She believes that, through the narrative performances of Go There, community members of Burbank will find togetherness while supporting a noteworthy cause.

“Perhaps my most treasured moments have come in the lobby after a show when the audience shares with the storytellers what resonated for them,” Weerts said. “I am often surprised by where the connections are made. Each story resonates for someone. There is always this moment when the honest sharing of a personal experience becomes an epiphany when someone realizes ‘Wow, I’m not alone.’ ”

Anyone interested in submitting their stories for Go There or the FSA blog can learn more here. To learn more about the event, visit the FSA’s website here.

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