True stories are captivating. As humans, we seem always to crave truth, history, details, gossip. We are drawn to stories, one could say, like moths to a flame. Now there’s a chance to fulfill this longing on the first Thursday of every month in Fremont, Seattle. With support from KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, the Fremont Abbey Arts Center opened its doors for Seattle’s second Moth StorySLAM on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7 p.m. The listeners and storytellers had been gathering outside for an hour, huddled with friends, warm drinks in hand, nibbling on snacks and relaxing in camping chairs they’d brought for the wait.
The Moth is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of live storytelling. In different cities across the nation, The Moth hosts live true storytelling events, which include both professional and amateur storytellers. This month it nestled its way into Fremont to another full house of anxious attendees.
A StorySLAM is not just a storytelling event, but a competition. That’s right, there is a winner declared at the end of the night. As folks buy their tickets and enter the intimate theater space, they can write their name on a release form and drop it into a bag. Ten lucky people will have their names drawn and be asked on stage for the opportunity to tell a five-minute story on the night’s theme. Last Thursday’s theme was “Chemistry.” Panels of judges are determined as people take their seats at the start of the evening. Last week’s judging teams, “Love from E-T-O-H,” “Bunsen and Beaker” and “The Reaction” were responsible for establishing a winner by scoring each candidate on a scale of 1-10.
The event was hosted by Dan Kennedy, author of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad. Kennedy’s commentary between storytellers and general wit and humor brought the room to booming laughter repeatedly throughout the evening. Audience participation was encouraged; slips of paper were passed out with a question relating to the night’s “Chemistry” theme: “What two elements in your life, when combined, are sure to explode?” The question was answered anonymously by dozens of folks in the room, the responses dropped into a bag on the stage. Between stories, Kennedy would snag a few slips to share. If the answers weren’t particularly entertaining, Kennedy’s reaction to them inevitably was. Last week’s tales of chemistry ranged in subject from love to an explosive sibling relationship to a high school breaking and entering in order to alter poor chemistry grades on the teacher’s computer. The storytellers were well-received by a squeezed together sold-out crowd, many in the standing room section. The Abbey provided wine, beer and other refreshments for purchase, all the proceeds of which benefited Abbey Arts programs for all ages and incomes. The Seattleites were encouraged to “Drink Up for the Arts!” And they did.
While many of the stories were gripping and well-received, it was Lindy West who was named the StorySLAM winner at the end of the night. The account of her childhood, forced to sing Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements” song at a camp talent show (and forever after when there was a piano and a group of adults around) seemed to start as a story about a parent forcing a child into a life she didn’t choose: on the stage. A painfully shy girl, West finally fell into the footsteps of her showbiz family, a performer now that she’s reached adulthood. She ended the tale with an a cappella rendition of the song, naming all the elements of the periodic table in the speedy, tongue twister-esque manner of the original, inserting her late father’s usual commentary halfway through. The Abbey roared with applause and many rose to their feet to cheer for West as she left the stage.
The Moth’s Seattle StorySLAM is a recurring event, scheduled for the first Thursday of every month. The theme for November is “Unintended.” Consider coming prepared with a true story of your own. Wondering how to get started? Check out The Moth’s storytelling tips for advice. Visit The Moth’s website for more details.
WHEN: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Stories at 8 p.m.
Fremont Abbey Arts Center
4272 Fremont Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
TICKETS: $16 in advance or $8 at the door. Purchase your ticket here.