Talk it out: Storytelling workshops and monthly events begin Jan. 24

Regi Carpenter, photo by Dede Hatch

A story slam is like a poetry slam only — and this is probably the obvious part — with stories rather than poems. What’s probably less readily apparent is that the story, while perhaps embellished, must be true. And, says David Joe Miller, Black Box Storytelling Theater producer, “It doesn’t matter if the person telling the story is a great storyteller. What matters is the story.”

But being a great storyteller can’t hurt — especially when a story slam is rated by the audience or a panel of judges, and prizes (or at least bragging rights) are at stake. To that end, Black Box Storytelling Theater presents two workshops, both led by Regi Carpenter, a professor of storytelling at Ithaca College and winner of the 2012 Boston Story Slam.

First, “Diving and Emerging, finding your voice and identity in personal stories” takes place at Mojo Coworking on Saturday, Jan. 24, 12:30-3:30 p.m. “Regi will teach [participants] to dive into emotions and pull out family stories,” says Miller. Locally based, nationally known storytellers Connie Reagan-Blake and Gwenda Ledbetter have both already signed up to attend; the intimate workshop holds 35 people. $25. Pre-registration is required, email davidjoetells@yahoo.com.

Second, “HIT ME, telling a 10 minute story with PUNCH!” held at New Mountain‘s SOL Bar on Sunday, Jan. 25, 1-4 p.m., is geared toward a younger audience (though all participants must be over age 18), and focused on story slams and making an impact. $10.

Then on Monday, Jan. 26, Carpenter returns to the SOL Bar for an evening of stories — a performance with Asheville’s Tom Chalmers (creator of local storytelling series Listen to This). Local soul vocalist and busker Rhoda Weaver also performs. Show at 7 p.m., $8 advance online/$10 day of show.

Miller’s intention is to host “something spoken word” on the fourth Monday of each month at the SOL Bar. “It could be storytelling, poetry or monologues,” he says. “There are a lot of segmented groups of story slammers, storytelling, poetry slam and comedy, and this is a way that can hopefully bring them together.” His plan is to bring in nationally known storytellers at least every three months.

Beyond the monthly events at the SOL Bar, which Miller plans to keep at the $10 ticket price level, “We’ll do things in other locations around Asheville [because] I want Black Box Storytelling to not just be one time a month.” He also hopes to coordinate efforts with other local groups, such as Asheville’s Synergy Story Slam, which currently holds events at The Odditorium, to create a grand slam or championship.

One of the main challenges with storytelling events, says Miller, is the key word: “This is not children’s storytelling, this is adult storytelling.” The workshops on Jan. 24 and 25 will help toward that understanding — “This is instruction on how to tell an impactful story, a story that the audience can walk away [from] and talk about,” says Miller.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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