Stories make the world, stories ruin the world. Create the story of a world that you want to live in!


The project


 "Once Upon A Place"


"Stories make the world, stories ruin the world. Create the story of a World that you want to live in..."


A Cultural Bridge Made of Stories between the two edges of Europe, IRELAND and TURKEY


Two languages. One story. In Turkish and English. Tandem Storytelling.


Imagine storytelling performances without simultaneous translation. Get suprised by how much you will understand even you don't speak the language. Because all stories share a common language! The storytellers from the very west and the very east of Europe -IRELAND and TURKEY-, they will meet for a journey to explore, share and perform stories with two tellers working as one to give a story wings. 






The stories told by the local people of ISTANBUL and DUBLIN just about the places they live in.


Once Upon a Place is a project which combines art of storytelling performance with social awareness and responsibility, for it is an attempt to re-collect and perform forgotten or untold stories of the common local people about their surroundings.




History has the places. A building, a café or even a tree which people meet under its shadow. Out of huge amount of exchange of daily city life; people live, exchange and experience in places. Places store memories, collection of memories become stories. This is how we inherit our social consciousness and how we feel connected to our surroundings.


Do we? How many people you know have been still living in the town they born into? We constantly change places for education, work and so on... We forget or never learn them. The pace of modern life fade our collective memories and confine us to ourselves.


For most of us connectin to our surroudings or to the places we visit are reduced to an image; nothing more than "I was here" selfie. We get more self isolated as we lose our connection to our environment.


ONCE UPON A PLACE is a project to reinvent the art of storytelling in urban level as a tool to connect ourselves to the environment we live in and communicate with others, the others that we share the environment we live in.


Once upon a time there was a place called... and the story has it!




''Stories work in silence, invisibly with the all internal materials of the mind and self. Stories become part of you while changing you.''  (Ben Okri)




If you want to feel more connected, conscious and ready to change the world, stories are the best! That's why ONCE UPON A PLACE is a Project presenting storytelling as an unique and collaborative and exchange experience in urban level.


IRISH and ANATOLIAN, both cultures inherit a rich heritage of oral storytelling traditions. People of those lands know storytelling from the heart. For all those centuries long they have spoken through tradition to express all their feelings such as love, fear and courage to fight for the next day.


Exchange between two cultures will lead to a re-invention of those strong traditions in urban level for urban people. Project has already been started! 


Are you ready to listen the stories of Dublin and Istanbul behind their public spaces?



Let's sit under the shadow of that tree! Senem Donatan is telling a Sumer myth- Journey of Fairytales in Yeldegirmeni, Istanbul. 






For the beginning step, the project is concentrated on two districts of Istanbul and Dublin.


To unfold the stories kept in local people's minds about their surroundings is the most laborious but exciting work to do. From interviews to storymapping; each step will be coordinated in cooperation with local communities to encourage them to develop a consciousness about the environment they live in and Express their own voice in public sphere.


This step has already been kickstarted under the management of Tandem Turkey -EU Cultural Managers Exchange Programme coordinated by two cultural managers in the two selected districts of Istanbul and Dublin.


Stories wil never end especially in a city!But for the moment our goal is store a good collection of stories to work on for the next workshops.




The aim of the Project is to perform a good collection of stories about the places;

-For the local communities (in Istanbul and Dublin)

-In or around those places

-In cooperation withTurkish and Irish storytellers

-In two languages (Turkish and English)


Through three workshops held in two countries, participants will work intensively on collected stories to tell them as Turkish-English tandem performances.


For workshops 16 participants in total (8 non-professional storytellers per country) will be selected to work under he coordinaton of 2 professional storytellers from Ireland and Turkey


For having an inspirational storytelling performance, the workshops aim;


-To improve storytellng and performative skills of the participants

-To introduce  and practice multi-language tandem storytelling methods

-To go deeper by combining those storie with the cultural elements of Irish and Anatolian oral traditions.

-To inspire more to creat a connectin with old traditions and modern city life.



(Have you ever been seen tandem storytelling performance? Tandem storytellers from the group of Fernster zur Welt, Nazlı Çevik Azazi and Suse Weisse were telling their stories in German and Turkish together in Istanbul)




Stories trigger a change when they are told and spread from tongue to tongue, from ear to ear.


Now it's time to share stories we have learned from the local communities for the local communities at the places that have the stories.


There will be tandem storytelling performances;


-at two different cities from the very east and very west of Europe.

-in front of both Turkish and Irish communities

-carrying out rich cultural heritage of oral traditios into stage

-and share them telling simultaneously in two different languages


All the performances will take place at selected public spaces to create a vivid image of those places in minds of the people living around.


Feeling more human and connected through storytelling, that's what really matters!








The search for stories, exploring stories behind the places we live will never end.


To inspire all of us from december on;


Every step, all collection of stories and the maps of the places told will be available through the blog. For the future it will be an open source media which volunteers can contribute for more stories with other cities also!


Once Upon a Place is coordinated by Anlat Bana Kültür ve Sanat Derneği from İstanbul and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Arts Office from Dublin. The project is one of the collaborations in Tandem Turkey - EU Cultural Managers Exchange Programme.  It is an initiative of the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam), MitOst (Berlin), Anadolu Kültür (İstanbul), and supported by Stiftung Mercator (Essen). 








Why fund it?

It's a non-profit social responsibility project and we need your help!




In Turkey, local funds for international projects are very rare. Attainable financial opportunities for cultural exchange are also not well distributed. That is why we need your support! 


We want funds to cover Turkish storytellers mobility cost - travel cost, accomodation and per diems - and production costs to crown the project with a performance in Dublin.



Your support will ensure an intercultural bridge made of stories between Ireland and Turkey!


Your support will be a voice for untold stories!


Your support will empower local communities in public space through sharing!


Your support will improve storytelling skills of 16 non-professional storytellers; so it will cause a real impact in the art of storytelling!


Your support will highlight the differences and similarities between Irish and Anatolian oral traditions, which is another important contribution to storytelling as an art form!





Your support will cause a change in urban sphere of Dublin and Istanbul!


Your support will cause a change in the art of storytelling in Ireland and Turkey!


Your support will cause a change in the giant reserves of forgotten stories in the world!


Your support will be a source of inspiration for prospective intercultural storytelling projects!



Thank you!


Once Upon A Place

Once upon a time Anatolian lands was a heaven of stories and storytellers. However thousand years old oral tradition of storytelling had been neglected and forgotten for years in modern Turkey. In the last decade, the art of storytelling re-discovered as a tool of healing, peace and reconciliation. In 2012; “Tell Me Association” had been established... See more

FAQ Questions about the project

+ Who we are?

“Once Upon a Place” project is coordinated by Anlat Bana Kültür ve Sanat Derneği from İstanbul and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Arts Office from Dublin. The project is one of the collobarations in Tandem Turkey - EU Cultural Managers Exchange Programme.

This exchange programme is an initiative of the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam), MitOst (Berlin), Anadolu Kültür (İstanbul), and supported by Stiftung Mercator (Essen).

The campaign is organised by by Anlat Bana - The Association of Storytellers from Turkey from İstanbul.

The Association of Storytellers” had been established to gather the people who love to tell stories to share and explore more together. From then on, many performances, workshops, festivals, have been done to revive the deep tradition and re-create the urban way of storytelling in Turkey.

“Once Upon a Place” is another project promising unique collaboration and Exchange experience in multinational level.

The Project is led by three members of the association:

Pınar Ozutemiz – Cultural Manager: Pınar Özütemiz is a cultural manager of Once Upon a Place project. At the same time, she is a human rights lawyer.Pınar is managing and coordinating activities on human rights NGOs to be developed a range of youth-led projects to empower young people and their communities. She concentrates on youth activities and minorities rights initiatives combining the art of storytelling. It's been said that storytellers are agents of change. Pınar is also a student on this long but exciting journey. She is developing herself in storytelling technique, joining a number of workshops and experiencing power of storytelling in Berlin and İstanbul.

Ayse S. Donatan –Artistic Director:
Ayse Senem Donatan is a storyteller, theater pedagog, co- founder of SEIBA International Storytelling Center and Theater Madrasa in Turkey. Her most vital experiences are related to storytelling as a form of art to freely express the body language and the voice. Her main interest is biographical stories and healing stories. She is also organizing a number of interdisciplinary projects by the aim of storytelling.

Handan Saatcioglu – Project Coordinator:Handan Saatcioglu Gurses is a graphic designer from Istanbul. Her main interest is engaging storytelling with communal practice to allow awareness of the deeper movements people´s life. She believes stories help people to find their inner vision, to find their own story, and perhaps to even tell it and share it with others to deal with real life problems. She is also organizing storytelling events in Turkey.

+ What is Tandem Storytelling?

Each story will be performed by an Irish and Turkish storytellers telling simultaneously in Turkish and English in one stage. That’s what we call tandem storytelling method, it’s not a process of translating one language into other but performing together in double languages.