Since I first arrived in Bristol I had heard a lot about Story Slam, largely through my colleagues who are involved with it. I was intrigued and keen to go along since I first heard about it, but this month is the first time that I’ve been free to go. As I’d been intrigued by the concept, I was keen to see it working in practice.
So what is Story Slam and how does it work? It’s an audience participation event which is all based around telling true stories. If you want to tell a story you can put your name in the hat to be pulled out at some point in the show. There are several rules to follow…
1. They must be stories! They should have a beginning, middle and end, and some change and conflict to occur.
2. They must be told in 5 minutes.
3. They have to be true
4. They need to be genuinely 1st person.
5. They should preferably be told with no notes.
This month the theme was Discovery and was being held as an LGBT+ special in honour of LGBT+ history month. Consequently, I was expecting to hear a lot of coming out stories, but whilst there were a few I was impressed with the range of topics people covered, and all in different ways.
The first half of the event went really well. The story tellers were all quite smooth and had clearly done this, or something similar, before. The compere was particularly good, telling her own story as an example to begin with and then adding in other stories in response to other people’s. She was funny, she was warm and she kept the audience engaged.
By the interval I was hooked! The second half was just as good but in a very different way. The storytellers weren’t as polished, but as a result there was an increased sense of vulnerability and sincerity. These were people who hadn’t come with the intention of telling a story, but somehow now found themselves on stage, opening up about their life to a room full of strangers. I imagine in some cases it must be quite therapeutic.
I didn’t put my name in the hat for a 5 minute story, but I did submit a 1-2 line anonymous story in free other hat to be read out. I liked the fact that this was an option and think that a lot of the audience decided to partake in this way.
I really enjoyed my Story Slam experience and will definitely be back. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even get up and tell a story.
Story Slam is held on the third Sunday of every month at the Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol.