The Magic of Storytelling

A captivating spectacle of storytelling and self-discovery.


Screenshot from Hulu.

Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself.

An old home VHS tape plays, a scene with bustling and boundless youth at school. It takes you back. It cuts abruptly and pans across a wall of cards, all labeled with “I AM” and a different role of the world. Audience members take a journey, discarding their name for a title. You feel like the experience is your own.

“If you go back all the way to the beginning of recorded history, storytelling has been there,” Zaki Hamid, EvCC’s film and mass media professor, says. “It started on cave drawings and evolved from there. Everything from books, stage and movies and so on. Why do we have kids? It comes from really passing on something to the next generation.”

Think about the scattered perspectives of the world – how beliefs and feelings travel. A storyteller’s opportunity is not upon a specific moment, but in the moments found by a willingness to learn.

Zaki Hamid, EvCC film and mass media professor. (Courtesy Photo from Zaki Hamid.)

“You see the humanity in others, and that’s something that is just so deeply needed,” Hamid says.

Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself is not satisfied with telling an uninvolved story. DelGaudio’s documentary emphasizes storytelling in an intricate performance which thrusts you into a free-fall of misdirection and steers you into the toils of self-conflict in the endeavor at self-discovery.

“It left me questioning what to believe,” Beth Peterson, head of EvCC’s drama department, says. “You ask how so many things are an illusion? It’s about perception, identity, influence. There is so much in it.”

The original Off-Broadway theater production ran for more than 500 shows at Daryl Roth Theatre; it now presents as a Hulu exclusive film. DelGaudio explores the illusions and complexities of identity through a story of theatrical existential crisis. A theater show encouraging audience members to use self-reflection and empathy without ever asking. Rather, commanding it.

The one-man show recounts heartfelt stories of his life and the untold stories of many others. Through six acts he brings awareness to consciousness and the struggling turbulent perception of all stories, an illuminatingly relevant exploit.

“One of my teachers said, ‘Everything I know about anything, I learned from theater.’ And I get that, in a way it exposes you to topics that you might not know anything about. It exposes you to different views, different perspectives. And the ones that are done well will have that effect on you.” Hamid says.

The method of the story is an extension of its ubiquitous meaning: in a book, you are entranced by something unexplainable; in a movie something untouchable, and in a theater something indisputable. Every great story has a message that transcends its own narrative.

“There’s something that happens inside of a theater that it could be quite magical when it hits,” Hamid says.

“There’s a universal quality in theater,” Peterson says. “Theater is relevance – it needs to be heard.”

“Theater helps us understand the problems of our world and what to do moving forward,” Peterson says. “There’s a human connection through it. To be impacted in a profound way.

Beth Peterson, head of EvCC’s drama department. (Courtesy Photo from Beth Peterson.)

“Something magical happens. There exists a common communication. An ephemeral quality. It happens one time and then is lost.”

Trying to focus on its proposed intention. DelGaudio creates an immediate reaction with storytelling as he applies your connection to him, and more importantly to his audience.

The film consumes you in its art of storytelling and leaves you clamoring for answers. Is it theater, a singularity, or something more?

“In plays, you have to invest. It’s live. You have to be committed. You can’t check out.” Peterson says, “It’s fascinating. I don’t know if I would specially call this theater. Theater uses the element of impersonation. He never tries to be something else… So by definition, is it really theater?”

These un-realizations are part of its mystique. To be enticed by a performance enough to examine the necessity of storytelling in all facets.

“Coming this year we will be bringing theater back. I have so many ideas. Perhaps using streaming and even building our own stages. Like our previous production, even using interactive elements to keep the audience engaged. I’m excited.” Peterson says. “Theater is a cockroach. It can never be destroyed. It comes back with vengeance.”

Storytelling defies description, whilst explaining itself in its first introduction. It divulges reality, whilst concealing it under a veil. It is what other people believe, whilst being everything it is not. It truly is, in and of itself.

“I AM” cards offering an identity to its audience members. (Screenshot from Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself.)