Friday, March 1, 2013

Adventures in storytelling: Starting a new venue

Moving to Kansas City from Boston has been great. I really like this city and, for the most part, am delighted to be here. One of the few things Boston has over KC is a very active storytelling scene. I was part of building that scene over the last 20 years, so I know how long it takes and how rewarding it can be. Here in KC there is the local guild, River and Prairie Storyweavers which hosts two annual festivals, and a slam series, but not much else. Both of these are great, and there's room for more.

One of the wonderful things about storytelling is that it's an expansive art, with room for many different kinds of people and venues. My first real storytelling experience was in an open mic series, hosted by Brother Blue. I went on to run several other series based on his model. Coming out here, I wanted to start something similar, but also use some of what I learned from the slam series run by massmouth.

My first task was to find the right venue, which was easier than I could have dreamed. Prospero's Books is a fantastic used bookstore. A few months before I arrived in KC they opened a new location with a space specifically designed for performance. The manager, Will, was excited about storytelling, we picked a night and he told me to run with it.

Speak Out Storytelling KC was born. It's a storytelling series with monthly themes, an open mic and two features. The themes, idea borrowed from story slams, give all the tellers direction for their tales and gives the evening a cohesion it might not otherwise have. Unlike slams, the stories don't have to be true, they just have to relate to the theme in some vague way or another. We decided to have two shorter features rather than one longer one because it gives more artists a chance to strut their stuff and it will help us build audience.

A month later - last night - we had our first event. The local entertainment newspaper ran a feature on us, our facebook page was getting attention, we were as ready as we could be.

Joyce Slater
The weather here in KC is not the kind you want to go out in. We've had more snow in the last two weeks than there's been in the last three years. So, all things considered, we had a pretty good turnout. About 20 people came to hear and tell.

Our features were Joyce Slater, a KC storyteller and organizer, and me. Joyce had a great story about her first boy girl dance, while told about several first time experiences. We had several open mic tellers, all nervous and all on theme. Most of our attendees had never been to a storytelling event before and left excited and ready for more.

Mission accomplished. Storytelling venue launched. If you find yourself in KC on the fourth Thursday of the month, come by. It's a great space and fun event. We look forward to hearing you.

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Congratulations, Laura! Look out, KC; she's just getting started!

  2. I am so glad this is happening. I can't wait to get back to KC for many reasons, and I'm excited to be able to add this to the list.

    1. Woo-hoo! Can't wait to meet you!

  3. Congratulations. Sounds wonderfully exciting.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks. And now my tongue hurts...

  5. Way to go, Laura! Story on, my friend, story on. Tony Toledo

    1. Thank you! And thanks for the use of the name!

  6. I would expect nothing less! This is great news. May the story be with you.

    1. Thank you! Looking forward to seeing you at STF.


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