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You have 8 minutes to tell a nonfiction story. You’ll have a mic, a stool if you prefer to sit, a music stand for your pages, and a timer. Oh and an audience. Because what’s better than sharing something personal than to do it in front of strangers.
It’s called live lit and it’s sweeping America. Well maybe just Chicago. Even just a few years ago, storytelling venues were scarce in the city, but today there are over 50 storytelling events each month.
One consistent event in the city is Story Club, which boasts the 8-minute rule. Story Club is also in Minneapolis and Boston. It's a nonfiction storytelling show whose goal is to “mix up the spontaneity of an open mic with the experience of live theater”. Last Thursday, a group of readers shared their stories at the Holiday Club.
A gentleman opened the evening with a story about his Russian lover. He met her while working overseas. Repeatedly he told her that when returning to the US he’d be going alone. As he repeated this throughout the story it became obvious he cared for her. When the time came for him to return, he lost his wallet with all his money. She ended paying for his cab and checked baggage. Enough money to last her a few months he said. It made him feel even more worthless and he cried the whole way home.
If you talk over your 8 minutes the whole thing shuts down. Not like a giant claw scoops you off stage, but you’re done. Mid-sentence, exit stage left. Thankfully that didn’t happen to anyone last Thursday.
The next man to step up apparently worked on a documentary featuring a guy making his way down the Mississippi. He joined the guy on his journey for some time. In the beginning they got along fine. As time passed, the storyteller said he could see the journey wearing away at his companion who’d begun to shout and treat him poorly. The storyteller said he felt sadness for the guy because what he loved most about the river had beaten him. There was no longer joy in his passion.
Not all stories are as deep, you know. We heard about a man’s childhood dream of getting a GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip on Christmas, and the disappointment he still suffers when it didn’t arrive.
You may share from any point in your life – like the woman who gave in-depth details on what she’s willing to do to hang on to her youth. Or like another woman who gave a glimpse of her life after ending a six-year relationship.
The point of this story is whether it’s silly shit or deep shit, people relate to each other via our stories. We connect and it’s a beautiful thing. Check it out first in the audience, just for fun, and see what you think. Click here for live lit storytelling events in the city.
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