One of the perks of living in Los Angeles, or in any large metropolitan area I guess, is the endless array of entertainment possibilities. I was recently introduced to a new one, one that I had never had any exposure to before—storytelling! I was actually surprised that I had never even heard or read any discussion about storytelling before. I guess you sometimes get used to what you know and become oblivious to other stuff.
But it only takes one person to open your mind to something new, and for me that was my friend Susanna. It all started when she announced she was performing in Expressing Motherhood, a stage show that offers moms with no acting, writing, or speaking background an opportunity to share their motherhood experiences. Susanna writes a blog called Not June chronicling her mothering and other life experiences and has a very unique voice so she had the writing part down, but the speaking/acting aspect was a new pursuit for her.
At first I was skeptical, certainly not about her ability to do it, but about my desire to go. I knew I wanted to support her in this new endeavour of hers, but I wasn’t sure this was the kind of entertainment I would enjoy. I knew I enjoyed shows with multiple characters showcasing one story, but Expressing Motherhood was just regular people, moms, sharing their own independent, true stories. How interesting could that really be? And it was at a theater in Burbank, so this was definitely a multiple hour commitment to boot.
My family happened to be in town one of the two weekends of her performance back in October 2012. I jumped in and bought tickets for me, my mom visiting from Norway, and my sister visiting from Connecticut. I figured it was kind of perfect actually. Here we were, my sister and I, both mothers of young children, with our own mom. They were probably skeptical about this show being the best way to spend our very, very limited time together, but they went along with it without questioning it.
We ended up having a fabulous time, one that will stay with us for a long time because it was so different than what we usually do together. Just walking up to the theater and seeing its marquee I got a good vibe. The theater was very small and intimate so there was kind of an immediate bond with our fellow audience members.
The storytellers told stories on a variety of topics related to motherhood; some were serious, others humorous, but all were very engaging. We laughed, we teared up, we nodded with understanding, and we sighed with sympathy. Susanna’s story was one I remembered well from her blog. How could I not with a title like “Phone Sex for Moms”. And she delivered it really well also. I was very impressed with her (not only her guts to perform but also her ability to do it) and proud of me for seizing the opportunity and stepping out of my comfort zone.
Recently, I had the opportunity to see Susanna perform again. This time she was in a Spark Off Rose production entitled “Lie, Cheat, and Steal: An Evening of True Stories”. I knew for sure I wanted to see her.
A friend happily joined me. Once again, I was surprised at how engaged I was the whole time. For a moment, when the musical introduction started, I was afraid I might at times lose focus and miss parts of the stories, but it never happened. Every storyteller captured my full attention and kept a tight hold on it the whole time. The stories of lying, cheating, and stealing were truly outstanding. I gasped, chuckled, and nodded as the stories unfolded, amazed at times that they were actually true, real life stories.
I have become a fan of storytelling. Apparently, there’s a whole world of storytelling out there, and it’s been around for a while and is growing quickly, as I learned in this New York Times article. There are venues for both novices and experienced, professional storytellers; there are not only small-time shows but also big, fancy productions; and there are monthly shows and even festivals… I had no idea! But now that I’m aware of it, I’m sure I’ll see and hear mention of storytelling frequently, and I definitely look forward to the next opportunity to attend a performance. Thanks, Susanna, for introducing me to storytelling! When will you be performing next? 🙂