The birth of Cliffhangers: Giving storytelling a second chance in Lebanon

Cliffhangers started in 2014 with only ten people and has grown immensely ever since as a community and an audience.
by Hala Mezher

5 June 2019 | 16:20

Source: by Annahar

  • by Hala Mezher
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 5 June 2019 | 16:20

This photo shows Dima Matta at a Cliffhangers event. (Photo taken by Madonna Adib)

BEIRUT: From the Fall of Icarus to Oliver Twist’s journey, to the story of the first time you broke your arm, our worlds are continuously shaped by stories that influence the way we perceive the past, present, and future. 

The first time Dima Matta attended a storytelling event, she was in the United States, and she described it as “magical.”

Determined to bring the magic back with her, she tried to tell a story at a poetry night six years ago in Beirut. Unfortunately, it was not what she imagined it would be, and the literary scene in Beirut was not yet familiar with storytelling.

After this, Matta decided that storytelling would not succeed in Beirut. However, she later chose to give it a second chance after participating in a small storytelling event and being reminded of its beauty.

This is the story of how Cliffhangers came to life.

Cliffhangers is among the first storytelling initiatives in Lebanon, hosting monthly events across Beirut. The events usually consist of a main line up of speakers, followed by an open mic period which is a chance for attendees to participate and tell their stories.

The monthly events sometimes have themes as well. For instance, on the 15th of May it was “Idahot Storytelling Night,” in accordance with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia which falls on the 17th of May each year.

Cliffhangers, therefore, provides a judgment-free, safe space for people to express themselves and tell their stories. It is also a place where people can foster their talents and passions.

Matta, the founder of Cliffhangers, told Annahar that storytelling "helps us form our narratives in order to understand who we are and understand others,” adding that “it makes us feel less lonely. We as humans operate on stories. We learn through stories, we make connections through stories.”

Cliffhangers started in 2014 with only ten people and has grown immensely ever since as a community and an audience. It occupies an important part of Beirut’s literary scene and has played a major role in reintroducing storytelling.

“We need gravity and stories. That’s all we need to make the world go around,” Matta told Annahar.  

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