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Archive for March 16th, 2023

Grand Slam

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One of the things Cyndie decided to do to occupy herself during the months she was laid up with a broken ankle was to explore storytelling. “The Moth” level of storytelling. She bought their book about storytelling and started writing down details of stories from her life experiences that seemed worthy of telling. She picked the date of a local Moth story slam at the end of this month and has been working on honing one of her stories down to an effective 5-minute version.

Last night, we drove to St. Paul to get an in-person taste of Moth storytelling at the Fitzgerald Theater. It was their GrandSLAM Championship where nine winners of previous story slams competed against each other with 5-minute stories based on a common theme of “Crash Course.”

At the end of the night, my first question to her was, “Did that change your mind about throwing your name in the hat?”

It didn’t. I find it difficult to understand that she won’t even know if she will have a chance to try until the night of the event because they pull 10 names out of a hat to determine whose stories will be told. I don’t know how many people show up hoping to be selected to stand on stage in front of a microphone under a bright light in front of a large audience, but I’d guess it will be more than ten.

Last night we got the chance to see what aspects of the storytelling worked well and what Cyndie might want to keep in mind if she gets the chance to tell her story of baking and assembling a wedding cake for our niece’s wedding. The versions Cyndie has been trying out have changed a lot from when she started. The Moth asks that stories be “known by heart but not rote memorization.”

Whittling down the entire experience of a compelling story into a 5-minute version forces you to figure out what details are essential and which ones don’t contribute to the main point. Moving from reading it to “telling” it by memory gets tricky with multiple versions floating around in her mind.

Only one storyteller last night had a moment of visibly losing their train of thought. The emcee did a great job of rallying the crowd to support all storytellers with a lot of love and we cheered the person with encouragement and her story resumed flawlessly in short order.

“The Moth’s mission is to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.”

Cyndie has countless stories worth telling. I’m thrilled she has chosen to develop greater mastery of the art of telling them well and doing so in larger venues.

It’s a bonus for me because I LOVE listening to well-told stories. That is… when I’m not too busy trying to tell one of my own. Why don’t I try getting on a Moth stage? I think it comes down to the part about knowing the story by heart and telling it in 5-minutes. On a stage.

I’d rather write my stories in a blog.



Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2023 at 6:00 am