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Saving Stories

Everyone has a story to tell. We want to make sure they get told.

San Diego dramatists connected with storytellers currently isolated in assisted and skilled nursing facilities.

All stories are streaming below.


I’LL HAVE GREAT NAILS by Mabelle Reynoso, performed by Rae Henderson

SCARY THINGS by Thelma Virata de Castro, performed by Joy Jones

MAKE A WAY by Gill Sotu, performed by Fred Harlow

A PIECE OF MY STORY by Aleta Barthell / Sylvia Combs M’Lafi Thompson, performed by Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson

THE DAY TRIP OF MY LIFE by Thelma Virata de Castro, performed by Jill Drexler

MY FAVORITE PLACE by Mabelle Reynoso, performed by Jo Anne Glover

IN STUDY AND SERVICE by Gill Sotu, performed by David Macy-Beckwith

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? by Joshua Hill & Greg Hil

The Saving Stories Creative Team:

Executive Director, New Village Arts Theatre (Project Sponsor):

Kristianne Kurner is the Executive Artistic Director of New Village Arts Theatre. Kristianne founded New Village Arts in 2001. She is trained as an actor and a director, with a BFA in theatre from the College of William & Mary and an MFA from the Actors Studio/New School. Kristianne is the recent recipient of the Clare Rose Sabbatical Award from Fieldstone Leadership Network.

Dramatist/Project Director:

Aleta Barthell is a playwright and teaching artist in the San Diego area and a Dramatists Guild Ambassador for the San Diego region. Aleta received her Bachelor of Science in Theater from Northwestern University and trained at the British American Drama Academy and Shakespeare & Company. Aleta studied playwriting/screenwriting at UCSD. Her stage play, WINDOW OF SHAME, is a finalist with the 2020 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and was a finalist for the 2016 HUMANITAS/CTG Playwriting Prize.


Thelma Virata de Castro is a playwright and California Humanities grant recipient for THE FIRE IN ME, a theatrical exploration of domestic violence in the San Diego Filipino community based on interviews, for which she received the “Esperanza Award” from Access Inc. for “Extraordinary commitment to eradicating domestic violence in San Diego County.” Thelma is a teaching artist for Playwrights Project and teaches playwriting to incarcerated adults in their “Out of the Yard” program.

Gill Sotu, a navy veteran, is also a multi-faceted poet, playwright, musician, DJ and performing artist. He is a two-time Grand Slam Poetry Champion, two- time Raw Performing artist of the year and a three-time TEDx San Diego presenter. Gill is a teaching artist with The Old Globe Theatre and has created performative work based on interviews from youth refugees for Intrepid Theatre’s “Exiled Voices” program.

Mabelle Reynoso, (she/her) is a multidisciplinary storyteller and teaching artist who works in non-traditional theatre spaces, including classrooms, community centers, and correctional facilities. In addition, Reynoso is adjunct faculty at San Diego State University where she works with future schoolteachers to leverage the power of theatre in their own classrooms.

Joshua Hill is a Los Angeles based composer and multi-media artist. He received a Canadian Screen Award for writing the song “The Crown Sleeps” in the Academy Award nominated film “The Breadwinner”. Funded by an Arizona Commission on the Arts grant, Joshua spent time with The Wooster Group in NYC. As a composer he has worked on films that have premiered at festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and Mammoth Lakes. 

Humanities Practitioner / interview Liaison:

Carlyle Coash is a former hospital chaplain who spent almost two decades working in the field of pediatric and adult end-of-life care. He is currently a bereavement counselor and teacher of mindfulness. He is also a member of Zen Cabaret, a performance group that blends Dadaist principles with the practice of dharma art.


Anthony Golden Jr. has been a storyteller all his life. As an actor he’s toured the nation with the National Players. As a director he’s started his own production company, Rebuilt Minds. With a BFA in Acting from Boston University and an MFA in Film/TV from the University of Southern California he’s made it his mission to create stories for the underrepresented. Now as the director of Saving Stories that mission continues.

Questions about this project?

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit