Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why every story is important.

Why every story is important. Grande Finale Story Slam April 20, 2010

Before the Audience Choice voting ends we want to say just how good all the stories at the grande finale were. Each teller contributed to putting storytelling as a performance art back on the cultural map of Boston.  Each story represented a unique experience and view of the world.  We all were a bit richer for hearing those stories and we want to thank the tellers. Each one of your stories ( and all the stories in all the slams)  was essential to the success of our project.

Below we recognize the tellers, individually, in set order ( 3 groups of seven as on the program) but not necessarily order of performance: Jim Stahl's My Beautiful Handpainted Iris, was one of our personal favorites. Jim writes his stories and his precise and evocative language brought us into the brain of a 13 year old boy where we could see clearly through his "eyes" and then, later, his one eye. Laura Packer brought embarrassment to new heights with her Bad Date story that started out bad and then, only got worse. We went on that cringe-worthy ride home with her and could actually see her feral movements, flying lobster and red face.  Amelia Kimball won the "it’s relative" slam with her wry take on communication between the Easterners (who knew?) and effusive Westerners. Her East and West added to our multicultural lore and her observations at a cross cultural wedding were New Englander succinct and very funny. We loved how Jackson Gillman expressed the theme "it’s my job" with his fun and crazy logic. He was so serious about Working the Room, and had such great pacing, that Rabb Hall was rocking with laughter. Bruce Marcus charmingly represented the foibles of parenthood connected to "it’s relative"  with his story,  Backwards Day.  Although he learned his lessons about glib parenting the hard way he told his story with ease.  Joan Cousins brought Ambush á La Carte to the  "it’s relative" slam but won a place in the slam through the People’s Choice Contest. She was new to the move from "page to stage" and brought memorable insights including  that someone would find homosexuality so...threatening ? that they would seek conversational relief in the mass murder of 6 million Jews. Diana Wiesner had roared  "in like a lion" with her The Back Story and we would have Skyped her entry in from DC where she was at a work related conference but communications broke down.  

In the next set of stories, Doug Lipman did a bang up job with his story of a brief folk music career and adventure gone outrageously wrong.   He lived to tell the story because Singing at Gunpoint did not end with a bang.  Michael Anderson  never looked back and took 2nd place with an audience favorite from the theme "so embarrassing".  Michael went to hell and home again bringing infidelity to a new low point with his The Myth of Orpheus.   His masterful performance brought us into his private Hades.  Joanne Piazzi came and conquered at the "love and lies" slam.  Hers  was an ebulliently told story. Dreams of romance never crumbled so sweetly as in  her Random Acts of Confection.  3rd place winner Nicolette Heavey showed how fruitcake can be an essential ingredient in setting family limits. Her  Fruitcake  story won at "dining disasters” and while we always knew fruitcake was heavy, she made it funny too.  Elsa Zuniga "it’s relative" revealed to us how her music lessons and minimal success at them brought her new appreciation of the power unconditional parental love and support.  Her engaging style brought the Piano Story, home. At  the "it’s relative" Ilene Fischer tossed her name into the hat and was immediately thrown on stage as the first storyteller.  So she knows from chutzpah. And if you didn't know about what to eat when sitting shiva in Miami you did at the end of this story We could see each one of her eccentric relatives as they acted out a family drama told with wit and style in Shiva.  Judith Black told Welcome Home for the first time at "in like a lion" slam in March.  Lionesses are known to be intensely protective and no one wants to be in between them and their young. Judith portrayed this ferocity and showed how it feels to be helpless in the face of the suffering of a child, a deep and human pain.  Judith’s range of human emotion and skillful telling about welcoming her son home from war, won 1st prize.

             Jess Sutich was our first ever Audience Choice winner at the "it’s relative" slam. She told a coming out story that spanned quite a bit of family relationships in under 4 minutes. In What Happens at Beerfest…we were right with Jess up to and including the deeply ironic ending where  her outgoing dad needed a guy to talk about his acceptance of his daughter. Chris Osborne style is low key and powerful at the same time.  The theme" it’s relative" was well examined in his story of how he and his wife reacted to the same event in his urban tale, The Neighbor.  He mused and wondered and we were right with him. Kevin Brooks told from the theme "dining disasters " and he had all the right ingredients and moves to show how cooking can make a relationship sizzle. His telling in Tomato Paste showed great timing and pacing. Paul Hlebowitsh won the first ever massmouth slam with his first ever performance of a story at "scared to death". He delighted us with a well-crafted story of childhood terror and lasting scars in Chocolate Milk. Paul also became the first ever massmouth Story 2.0 Award that goes to the teller of the next “generation” in the story slam season, with the best story. From the theme "it’s my job" Lani Peterson told about something familiar to any good teacher; often we learn as much or more from our students than they do from us.  In Facing My Fish she bared her soul and let us know that she is still looking for the right fish to take her personal bravery to the next level.  Her genuine, unaffected style was right up there and level with the best.  The mistakes of love are there to teach us and Rowan Meade "errors of eros" entry won our hearts. Rowan learned the hard way in A Man in Uniform that there is no easy road to love, but then, does anyone learn things about love the “easy” way?  Robin Maxfield  is  an "outrageous" performer  and had the stuff to tell all in  Standing In Line Stinks. She drew the last slot and that can’t have been an easy wait.  You wouldn’t know because she ended the night with a high energy performance.  ‘Pride goeth before a fall’ and Robin set herself up and then took us all down with élan. 

We were deeply happy to listen on Tuesday and more than satisfied to know that we helped to bring these stories to the kind of audience they deserve.

Now, please, buy a DVD, and tell a friend about storytelling and massmouth. Tell your story!
- Norah Dooley