March 31, 2010

Shout Out: Fireside Storytelling (San Francisco)

I've been so wrapped up in watching storytelling online lately, that I had to take a breather tonight and head out to see some real, live storytelling.

So I headed across the bridge to the Climate Theatre, a cozy 50-seat black box in San Francisco, to see Fireside Storytelling, a new monthly series of personal storytelling.

I had a great time--despite the fact that, as you longtime readers will recall--I don't even particularly like personal storytelling as a genre.

Six storytellers plus a story from the emcee. A theme, tonight's was "I faked it," which was interpreted in a variety of ways by the tellers.

Why did I enjoy the show so much?

The enthusiasm of the producers. The cozy feeling of gathering in a small room to hear stories on a rainy night. An aesthetic of "sitting up late at the kitchen table with really interesting people." A lack of polish (but not a lack of confidence). A chance to see storytelling in its natural habitat... okay, it was on a stage, under theatrical lighting... but from people who hadn't crafted the story as part of an eight week class, or a day-long workshop... just people who the producers knew were good at telling stories from their lives.

Overall, the evening had a decidedly different feel for personal storytelling from the carefully polished sentiment and nostalgia that graces so many of the storytelling community's stages. Neither did it have the alcohol-fueled agitation of other established personal storytelling nights.

I suspect this series, just three months old, could well become a beloved institution in San Francisco.

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