|Lizi Brown, Jannelle Codianni, Josh Whiton and Jackson Gillman at the Semi-finals in JP|
Disclaimer: This article below was a solicited declaration. I had asked Lizi to write something about her experience ( she wanted a massmouth,inc. T-shirt so I suggested she write something for our blog this as a barter) and here it is...
This February a friend treated me to my first evening of massmouth,inc. storytelling at Doyle’s. She knows I listen to The Moth, and wanted to turn me on to what‘s happening locally. When we got there they were asking audience members to consider telling a story on a particular theme. I had one that matched the topic and told it to my friends at the table while we were waiting for things to get going. Though I didn’t think it was worth the mic time, they encouraged me to get up and tell it. I was reluctant because I’m just not a performer. I hadn’t had any time to figure out how to tell it right, and I was also just plain chicken. Even though I knew my experience was interesting, I couldn’t imagine that I could put it out there very well. But the crowd seemed friendly, and I decided to give it a try.- Lizi Brown
What followed was a few quick minutes sharing my life in a way that seemed to work surprisingly well. I had decided to ‘just be me’, and stick to the bare bones of a series of life events that it turned out people liked hearing. It was more fun than I can possibly explain, probably largely because I was relaxed and unprepared. I won the audience vote, got some excellent coaching, and went on to the semi finals. At this point I felt way over my head, but the other tellers were supportive and really nice, and we all had a great time that night. Miraculously, I went on to the finals.
I’m not a performer in any sense, and yet I was able to tell my experience, partly because of the short time limit that made it less scary (how much trouble can you get into in 4 minutes? wait – that could be a future theme...), and partly because the night was so welcoming and fun. Each event required shortening and fine-tuning. As I rewrote the story I learned more about it, and why I was telling it, but I stuck to my original gut feeling to just be me. When I told it the last time I did the best. I was surrounded by great people with wonderful, human stories, and I felt very good about my contribution to the evening. I can’t believe I did it! Participating in these events was very empowering, it helped me find my voice in many ways.
It also feels really good to contribute to the high school storytelling project that benefits from the funds raised at these evenings. They are teaching kids to find creative ways to express what is happening in their lives, incredibly important work. Thank you massmouth.
Thanks, Lizi - this is precisely our vision for story slams - a kind of storytelling 'of the people, by the people and for the people'. Creating experiences like yours are the greater part of what we worked so hard to make happen. Promoting the art of storytelling is the rest of the gig.