I’m on the board of Story Arts of Minnesota, which has been mentioned in previous blog posts (most of my contribution to the board is being shirtless and making crude jokes during meetings). Since other folks have talked a bit about what we do, I’m not going to belabor that point. Instead, I’m going to invite you to get involved.
We’re a working board, which means the shit we can do is limited by the time, attention, and energy of a handful of people. If you’re a member of the storytelling and spoken word community of Minnesota, we’d love for you to get more involved and help us do more to give back to that community.
Email email@example.com and let us know that you’d like to volunteer at an event, serve on a committee, or be available for odd jobs. Or, if you’ve got a great idea for events, programming, outreach, or any other project you think would help the storytelling community, email us and we can see if SAM can help.
2. Cheap Theatre
A lot of folks come to story slams and think that if they want to keep telling stories, they’ll forever be judged with numbers and capped at five minutes and thirty seconds. Not so!
If you’re looking for longer-form storytelling on a regular basis, Word Sprout has a bunch of great offerings that I won’t get into because information is available in the banner just above this post.
I’ll be performing at Cheap in September and October, so if you come by, say hi before or after the show.
3. Midstream Reading Series
I’m going to be performing “Between the Lanes” (a piece I wrote for Paula Reed Nancarrow’s Fringe show, Gravity of Ghosts, last year) at the Midstream Reading Series this month. August 14th, 7:15pm, Blue Moon Cafe (3822 East Lake Street).
It was said by one reviewer that it’s “a chilling but hopeful piece that stylistically captured the very essence and soul of the Twin Cities.” I call it, “the story where I admit what an idiot and asshole I am on my bicycle.”
Also that night will be the poets Kathleen Jesme, James Silas Rogers, and Morgan Grayce Willow. We'd
love to see you all there. You can check out my website for other upcoming performances.
4. PROMPT: Getting Back
I’m MCing and producing a show for Story Arts of Minnesota as part of our PROMPT series (a series highlighting stories inspired by or tangentially related to famous stories). We’ve got a great lineup of tellers (to be announced soon) who’ll be telling stories inspired by or tangentially related to the Odyssey, arguably one of the greatest stories of all time.
It’s September 6th at the Festsaal Banquet Space at the Black Forest Inn at 7pm.
5. Folktales Rising
I frequently complain about the way folk tales are often told. Two-dimensional characters who act in irrational ways, and the appropriation of oppressed cultures by well-intentioned white people are top on my whingeing list. People outside of folk telling probably associate the art with retired librarians and school diversity programs.
But let’s get two things straight.
First, good folk telling is absolutely stunning. These stories, when they’re crafted and delivered well by experienced storytellers, have the capacity to transform your life at least as much as personal storytelling. There’s a reason the old tales have survived for centuries or millennia, and that history gives folk stories a weight and meaning that differs from personal telling, but is just as powerful.
Second, you and I (assuming you’re a slam storyteller) would not be doing what we’re doing without the folk movement. Performance storytelling - whether folk or personal narrative - wouldn’t exist without the decades of hard work and dedication of the folk revival movement. This isn’t a point about paying dues, although dues are certainly due. It’s a point about improving your craft.
Folk tales contain some of the proto-structures and proto-themes of all great stories, and folk tellers have been working with those structures and themes for years and years. If you want to improve your own storytelling - whether personal or folk - it behooves you to pay attention to folk telling.
So I’m pitching Folktales Rising - a group of folk tellers led by Dorothy Cleveland, who gather at 7pm on fourth Tuesdays at the Book House in Dinkytown - for anyone whose only experience is with personal narrative. They’re a feedback and trial performance group for folk tellers, so if you’re thinking about telling folk tales or just want to hear some great folk tales and listen to people talk craft, they’re a wonderful, supportive place to get started and ask advice from people who work hard and well in this area.
6. In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
HOTB has been a small but important part of my life. The first two years of my recovery, preparing for the May Day parade gave me something to do with my hands, feet, and heart that was creative and community-driven, in a time of year (wet, shitty Minnesota spring) when I struggle with my demons the most.
But HOTB is a lot more than that. It’s a huge part of the culture and community of inner-city Minneapolis. It’s a nationally recognized champion for a deeply important form of art. They’re known for the May Day Parade, but they do great shit for kids and adults all year.
They’re also struggling financially, which really sucks. Something this important shouldn’t have to scrabble to live. They should be wallowing in fat stacks of cash.
So, part of this pitch is to encourage you to get your ass to some HOTB productions, because they’re great and paying critical attention to that art will improve your craft. The other part of the pitch is to give them your money.
You can send checks of any amount to HOBT at 1500 E Lake Street Minneapolis, MN 55407. You can also donate online here, or on Razoo. I encourage you to become a sustaining donor, even if it’s at the $10 level.