Now Open: Greater Toronto Art 2024, March 22–July 28.



The Art of Storytelling

Friday, May 6, 2022
 | 6:00 pm
 – 9:00 pm 
 | Free
In-person | Drop-in | Limited seating

Join MOCA and The Toronto International Storytelling Festival for a series of performances delivered by storytelling artists Monique Diabo, Sarah Abusarar and Rico Rodriquez. Each performance will last roughly 30 minutes, after which, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with the artist.

Monique Diabo presents Tricksters

6:00 pm, Ground Floor

Diabo will tell stories of “Tricksters” from her Mohawk and Taino heritage.

“Almost every culture around Mother Earth has ‘Tricksters.’ From Greece with Hermes to the Caribbean with Anansi. In Indigenous cultures across Turtle Island they are known by many names; in Plains Cree territory they are Weesageechak, in Anishinaabe territory they are Nanabozho. Tricksters are recognized as teachers and simultaneously pranksters, those who frequently cross and challenge boundaries, as well as often ignore social harmony and order. Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have shared Trickster stories to entertain community members as well as to transmit traditional knowledge about society, culture, morality and ethics. As a third generation Indigenous storyteller, Trickster stories have always been my favorite to share.”

— Monique Diabo

Sarah Abusarar presents The Deception of Dreams
7:00 pm, Ground Floor

Abusarar will tell fairy-tales and folktales from the Middle East and her Palestinian heritage rooted within the theme of dreams.

“What do the Palestinians dream of and what of the Palestinian dream? Living under the nightmare of occupation the Palestinians’ only hope in the last seventy-four years have been their unanswered dreams. They continue to struggle for a dream that to the rest of the world often seems so far from what can be achieved in waking life. Perhaps just a fairy-tale? Their hopes deviate from how they are perceived by the rest of the world. And yet, our oral tradition tells us over and over again that if we continue to follow our dreams, we will find treasure. Perhaps this is why Palestinians keep struggling for their dream? In this exploration of life and story, I will be sharing the ancient wisdom from the Middle Eastern oral tradition. Within the frame of my family story of migration, loss and occupation, I will be telling fairy-tales and folktales from the Middle East with the theme of dreams.”

— Sarah Abusarar

Rico Rodriguez presents Free From It In My Body, But Not Free From It In My Mind and The Best of Both Worlds
8:00 pm, Third Floor

Rodriguez will tell two personal stories reflecting historical events about what it was like to be gay in Toronto in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“The first story, Free From It In My Body, But Not Free From It In My Mind, describes what I went through during the late 1980s before I was tested for HIV.

The second story, The Best of Both Worlds, is a story about my mom finding me doing a show in Drag on Church Street during Pride.

My mom thought being ‘gay’ was a transition to becoming a woman. I convinced her it was not. But then she saw me in Drag on stage at Pride….”

— Rico Rodriguez


The Toronto International Storytelling Festival (TISF) celebrates oral storytelling with traditional stories, personal true stories, poetry, and so much more. Promoting the sharing of values and cultures that connect us together, the Festival also honours the many cultural traditions that come together in Toronto — one of the greatest crossroad cities in the world. The TISF is produced by Storytelling Toronto, a Toronto-based charity that promotes and teaches the art of oral storytelling. The 2022 TISF runs from May 6-15, 2022 with events happening live at the Tranzac, online, and on demand until the end of the month. Check out the Festival website for a full list of events.

Monique Diabo
is of Mohawk and Taino descent, originally from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, Quebec. Monique is an accomplished multi-disciplinary artist; actor, visual artist, singer, dancer and choreographer. She recognizes the importance of imbedding Indigenous pedagogy into all facets of life in order to strive to cultivate equitable and transformative spaces; free of shame and blame.

Sarah Abusarar is a well-established storyteller, presenting both nationally and internationally at festivals worldwide. Many of her stories promote social change with a focus on Arab and balkan stories. In the past, Sarah has used stories in a therapeutic way with children in Palestinian refugee camps and with children awaiting deportation in Canadian refugee hotels. She teaches a course called “Storytelling as a Tool for Social Transformation.”

Rico Rodriquez is a storyteller and a teacher who specializes in Latinx tales, specifically the writing and telling of personal and fictional stories rooted in themes equity and social change. He is the founder of “Queers in Your Ears,” a 2SLGBTQI storytelling event. Rico is an influential local storyteller with a primary focus on North America. In addition to his performances in schools, theatres, festivals and conferences, he has also been heard on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) radio on National Public Radio in the U.S.

Image Credit: from left to right, Monique Diabo, Sarah Abusarar and Rico Rodriquez

Generously supported by Hal Jackman Foundation
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