The Narrators returns with real-life storytelling at the Deer Pile

Andrew Orvedahl and Robert Ruthorford bring The Narrators back to life at the Deer Pile. 
Andrew Orvedahl and Robert Ruthorford bring The Narrators back to life at the Deer Pile. 

After a hiatus, The Narrators is back. The monthly evening of truth- telling was started two years ago by writer and comedian Andrew Orvedahl at Paris Wine Bar (his efforts earned Orvedahl a MasterMind); he has now enlisted his friend and Narrators regular Robert Rutherford to co-host -- and moved the night to the Deer Pile community space above City, O' City.

We recently spoke with Rutherford -- a fellow writer and one-time member of local bands Everything Absent or Distorted and Rabbit Is a Sphere -- about the re-vamping of the popular narrative night. Though Rutherford stresses that the Narrators is really "Andrew's baby," he gave a little background on the show, which is now all-ages, free and happening on the third Thursday of each month at 8 p.m. Which means tomorrow night.

See also: - Andrew Orvedahl: 2012 MasterMind award winner - The great debate: Andrew Orvedahl and Jef Otte settle their parenting differences like men - Suzi Q. Smith: Read the poetry created by this week's cover artist

Westword: Could you give a brief explanation of The Narrators?

Robert Rutherford: The Narrators is a monthly storytelling event where we invite people to come in and tell a true story from their lives, and it's based around a theme that changes every month. It's generally been sold as "creative people" -- writers, musicians, artists and actors, but we really want to invite anyone with a story to tell.

How do you pick the themes?

It's really sort of whatever comes to mind -- I mean, we try to keep themes broad enough so that people can relate to them as loosely as possible. (Laughs.) But we have a running list. This month, it's "second chances," which we thought was appropriate since it's a second chance for the show -- we're in a new home and there's two of us (hosting) now. I know in the past Andrew (Orvedahl) has taken suggestions from storytellers and audience members.

Why did you decide to bring the Narrators back?

Andrew was hosting it by himself at Paris Wine Bar, and I think it just sort of outgrew the space -- or it got to be that the format of the show itself demanded another space. Dan Landes offered the Deer Pile, and we thought that was a great fit, because it's a community space and we have the freedom to do whatever we want. The size is perfect and the location is great.

Andrew and I have been friends for some years. As far as having me come on as a co-host -- I had done the show a bunch, just as storyteller. I had curated an event, sort of as a guest host. I think I can speak safely for Andrew here; he just wanted somebody to help him have a different perspective. Someone who could draw on a different group of storytellers.

I've played music in Denver for years -- I've have been around the creative community and I'm a writer. When Andrew asked me to do it, honestly, it really scared the shit out of me to (perform.) With playing in bands and writing poetry, there's a little bit of a removal or performance that I could put in front of me and the audience that made me feel more comfortable. But the idea of getting up there and telling a linear narrative that was drawn from all of my mistakes or whatever -- it made me really scared. (Laughs.)

So my involvement (comes from) him asking me to do it -- I tried it, I loved it. I said, oh my god, if you ever need help with anything, let me know. I thought it was such a good space for the writers he was bringing in. They were very inspiring (to me) as a writer and someone who likes stories.  

The Narrators returns with real-life storytelling at the Deer Pile

It's nice for people to be able to come and check it out before they position themselves to try storytelling in front of an audience. I can imagine it being a bit daunting?

I can relate to the fear, for sure! I know that for some people, it's a crippling fear. And that's real. But I hope (they) do come. And in building the Narrators for the future, I know Andrew has been really, really cognizant that the group of people he has been drawing on in the Denver scene to come tell stories -- he's got the white, straight, male comedian contingent covered really well.

But he's also tried very hard to get away from that; he doesn't just want this to be the monthly show where people can go watch comedians tell serious stories from their life, or whatever. He really wants it to be a place where people who are fans of long-form stories can get perspectives from all across the spectrum. We recognize that it is a big challenge for us, too -- overcoming this obstacle of knowing we are just white dudes who are telling stories.

The crowds are into everything -- and they are just awesome. It's not a comedy crowd; it's a crowd that's into people who really get into stories. The challenge is, how can we find those people? How can we let them know that it is a safe space to come share your perspective?

What's the best way for someone who might be interested in telling a story to participate in a future edition of the Narrators?

We'll be announcing (information) at every show and people can feel free to approach us, but they can also contact us through our Facebook page, or send us an e-mail,

The other sort of balancing act is we don't want horrible storytellers. I know in the past Andrew has had people get up and there's no narrative, they just talk about all of the horrible things in their lives. Or they lie and they're obviously lying. We have to figure out a vetting process, but we very much want people to contact us and talk about it. It's not an intense vetting process, but we don't want someone hijacking it and telling a thirty-minute story that no one wants to hear.

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