Sunday, October 18, 2015

Storytelling

I am not a natural storyteller. I listen in awe as people who I admire for their storytelling skills regale large groups with accounts of even the most mundane of activities. These people, like my friend Alana, or my Uncle Sam, can make a story arc and have you on the edge of your seat as they describe their most recent meal, or even their drive over to see you! As a more analytical and "to the point" personality, I struggle to draw out the suspense, fully describe moments and pull the listener into the story. So, naturally, I decided to participate in a monthly storytelling show in Anchorage, Alaska in front of an audience of 750 people.  Yikes.

The monthly show is called Arctic Entries. Why that name? Homes don't usually have porches in Alaska, but we do have something that's called an Arctic entry (an area between the front door and the door to the main house where you take off your layers, strip off your snowy boots, and also sit to gear up before going outside). Since stories are often told on porches in the lower 48 states, it makes sense that stories should be told in our Arctic entries in Alaska.

The show consists of 7 storytellers, who are just normal people from the community, each telling a 7 minute story, with no notes. The story must be true and about something that has happened to them. The show is wildly popular; the 750 seats in the theater sell out within 10 minutes of going on sale.

I love attending Arctic Entries as a spectator, and for the past year, I've thought about telling a story of my own on that stage. A lot of practice and preparation go into the preparation of a story, and Arctic Entries volunteers help you immensely through this process.  When I approached them this summer, they turned into my therapists/coaches/motivators/friends as they helped me refine and perfect my chosen story. The process of creating a story arc; getting the audience to relate to me and "like" me in the first 15 seconds of the story; presenting the conflict; and showing how I resolved the conflict took me weeks.

In the days before the show I was so nervous. The story wasn't in the shape I wanted it to be. Despite my outgoing personality and love of people, I really dislike being directly in the spotlight, so I was nervous about all the attention and potential for failure. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that my story was about one of my best friends, Alana, and the birth of her first daughter in 2012. I saw my story as a tribute to her and our friendship.

I won't give away too much here, since you can listen to my story online here!  Some photos of that night are below...



The 7 storytellers of the night, and our hosts

If you live in Anchorage and are interested in telling your own story on stage, visit www.arcticentries.com 

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