top of page

Admission to this event is free. No reservations or tickets are required.  For further information, contact the UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s main office at (518) 442-3995 or

In addition to this public performance, there will be two performances for high school students on Monday and Tuesday, March 4 & 5, 2024 at 10am.  Admission is free but reservations are required. Seats are only available on March 4 as the other performance is reserved to capacity. Educators wishing to bring groups can contact the UAlbany Performing Arts Center office at (518) 442-3995 or  Home school students and parents are also welcome.


"History is Her Story"

2 p.m. Sunday, March 3, 2024

Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222 See map.

History is Her Story, a program by four area storytellers, kicks off Women’s History Month.

The program features Marni Gillard, Aya Mahmoud, Claire Nolan and Stephanie Ward spinning yarns about strong and influential women: both past and present, famous and lesser known, real or imagined in myths, folktales and legends.  Honoring and exalting their contributions and the experience of being female, the stories acknowledge that women across the world are groundbreakers shattering conventional wisdom, defying naysayers and making history theirs.

History is Her Story flyer image 400w.jpg

The stories

Marni Gillard will tell the story of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was an investigative journalist, educator, and early leader in the civil rights movement. Marni will also perform the poem “Harriet Tubman” by writer Eloise Greenfield. In addition, Marni will tell us about Sojourner Truth and her fight to end slavery end racism in the United States.

Aya Mahmoud will tell "The Princess of Salt." This is a story found in many cultural traditions and listeners will hear echoes of Shakespeare, Grimm, and Perrault in Aya’s telling of this beautiful story. Aya’s version is one that is told throughout the Arabic speaking world. The story is an important one for girls and women. It is the story of a girl who stands up for herself when everyone, even her family disagrees. The Princess in the tale speaks her truth, although her voice trembles.

Claire Nolan will tell the story of “Nala and Damayan.” This is a much-loved story from India and is told in the epic The Mahabharata. Claire chose this story because it is a tale of a woman who through her love and devotion and shrewd planning saves her husband from addic􀆟on. As the story unfolds, Damyan􀆟herself experiences exile, homelessness, and madness.

Stephanie Ward will be telling two folktales about women that drive the narra􀆟ve forward while following their hearts. A Basket of Pears, an Italian folktale tells the story of Perina, a woman thrust into a situa􀆟on where she must use her kindness and intelligence to overcome gossip, return to her home and win her happily ever a􀅌er. The Wood Dancers is a retelling of a Czech folktale about Betushka and the love she finds outside of her small village. Both of these stories highlight women pursuing their own happiness, despite the expecta􀆟ons of the society in which they live.

The storytellers

History is Her Story, Marni Gillard.jpg

Marni Gillard, a former educator, performs locally and has also traveled to Ireland, South Africa and India where she has met storytellers and shared her tales. She was awarded the Northeast’s Regional Service Award from the National Storytelling Network in 2002. Gillard specializes in workshops where students or adults find the life stories or folktales they can tell.

History is Her Story, Aya Mahmoud.jpg

Aya Mahmoud’s deep connection to her roots in Sudan forms the heart of her storytelling, as she draws upon her personal experiences to share captivating tales with her audience.  A UAlbany student, Mahmoud embarked on her journey in storytelling with the Children at the Well Program. She has also been a storytelling coach assistant at the Underground Railroad Educational Center.

History is Her Story, Claire Nolan.jpeg

As the seventh of ten children, Claire Nolan has a wealth of personal stories and enjoys telling myths, literary tales, and folktales. Nolan can be found telling tales locally at Caffe Lena in Saratoga, Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, Wiawaka Women’s Center at Lake George and Thacher Park. She is also an instructor in UAlbany’s Intensive English Language Program.

Stephanie Ward Headshot copy.jpg

Stephanie Ward is an actor and a storyteller.  As a storyteller, she has performed for the Interfaith Story Circle of the Capital District and is a coach for Children at the Well, a program where children from different traditions learn the art of storytelling together.  As an actor, Stephanie performs at the Sterling Renaissance Festival.

bottom of page