Saturday, November 21, 2015

Olympia’s Story Slam

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 19, 2015
Elizabeth Lord hosts StoryOly Story Slam, photo by Austin C. Lang
StoryOly premiered its monthly Story Slam Tuesday of last week with a dozen funny, poignant, and in at least once instant harrowing stories told by local storytellers. StoryOly is a project of Olympia Actor’s League, hosted by Elizabeth Lord and produced by Amy Shephard. Community members come together every month to share and tell stories based on a specific theme. The theme for this premiere events was “First Time.”
Storytellers put their names in a hat and are picked one by one, to take the stage. Ten featured stories are scored by a team of judges selected from the audience. There is one winner each month, and the winners will face off in a Grand Slam Championship next September.
Last night they broke their own rules — nice start, StoryOly — by allowing one extra story plus an “icebreaker” tale by professional storyteller Sam Miller, who told a funny tale about his father getting a haircut every day. It took young Sam years to figure out what his father was really doing with his so-called haircutter.
First contestant up for the evening was Devin Felix, a Mormon kid who told about learning from another first grade kid in school that you could flash a middle finger but it didn’t “count” if you held a thumb up behind the offensive finger. His story was about what happened when he demonstrated his revelation to the entire school. Like Miller’s story before him, Felix’s tale turned out to be a touching father-and-son story.
Ingrid Bond talked about being a military kid and seeing an otherworldly light in Santa Fe.
Robert Perez-Rosales told all about his first kiss and all the many failures to connect with the opposite sex as he was growing up an extremely shy kid. The story rang true, and the audience reaction indicated that many listeners must have had similar experiences in their childhoods.
Rebecca Hom’s first time had a surprise ending, as all of us in the audience fell for her intended purpose of making us think she was leading up to her first sexual experience.
Next came Paul Current who told about finding out his first girlfriend worked in a brothel. His story was hilarious and possibly made up, which is against the rules since all stories are supposed to be true. I thought it should have been the overall winner; but the judges didn’t agree.
Cameron Comb told another first-kiss story. It was a first same-sex kiss story preceded by a first opposite-sex kiss story, and Comb said the latter was by far the best, not to denigrate poor Chip, who gave it his best.
Brian McCracken’s story about demonstrating at the Democratic National Convention was interesting but a little disjointed.
Billie Mazzei told a harrowing story about having a potentially fatal accident the first time she ever drove alone. It was a powerful story with lighthearted relief at the end.
Ned Hayes told about his days as a chaplain in a hospital and how an art appreciation class helped him possibly save a wounded soldier.
Michelle Murray once worked as a funeral director and embalmer. She told about a time they almost buried the wrong body.
And finally, Heidi (didn’t get her last name) told about daydreaming as a child and how it led to work as a librarian and helped her discover the power of stories — a fitting story to end the night.
The judges gave the highest score to Felix for his middle finger story.
The next OlyStory Slam will be Dec. 15 with the theme “Tis the Season.” Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5. Half of all proceeds are donated to Safe Place Olympia.
StoryOly’s Story Slam, 6-8 p.m. every third Thursday, Rhythm & Rye, 311 Capitol Way N, Olympia,

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