Each month Comedian Tom Chalmers solicits stories from local performers related to a central theme. The result, popular monthly storytelling series Listen to This: Stories in Performance, has run in Asheville Community Theatre’s black box space, 35below, for five years. “Our tag line is ‘real people, real stories, real good times,’” Chalmers says. “It’s an evening of stories so good they need be shared with an audience.” On Thursday, Nov. 19, those tales will take a decidedly dark turn with the Thanksgiving theme “Dining with the Enemy.”
“It will be a banquet of breaking bread with bad blood tales,” Chalmers says. “This seemed like a good dynamic to explore for this year’s Thanksgiving show.”Among the performers scheduled are Disney Institute master storyteller David Novak, Jeff Cantanese from the Attic Salt Theatre Company, Sarah Larson of Stories on Asheville’s Front Porch, local writer Chris Mako and local producer and writer Sarah Spooner.
As host, Chalmers will contribute some anecdotes between introducing the performers’ 10-minute sets. He admits to being humbled by introducing such a talent as Novak, who has been compared to classic fairytale authors The Brothers Grimm, analytical psychologist Carl Jung and modern humorists Monty Python.
Chalmers says audience response is what keeps him and the performers coming back to share stories and songs. “A great part of doing an evening of stories on stage is people will come up after and want to share a story of their own that they were reminded of watching the show,” he says. “It may mean it takes a while to clear the lobby after, but what a great way to connect with your audience and your community. The reception to this series has been fantastic.”