In today's world, the art of storytelling has been diminished by quick texts and 140-character tweets. So Nina Rolle and Johanna Walker are crusading to keep storytelling alive with the Truth Be Told story slam. "I think that people really crave stories," Walker says. "They help us build community and find our place in the world. Someone else's story can help us make sense of what it is to be human. People are really longing to connect with other people, especially in this day of hyper information."
Truth Be Toldis a bi-monthly story slam where any attendee can volunteer to tell a story, whether rehearsed or spontaneous. It just must be true, coincide with the theme -- this round the theme is Teacher! Teacher! -- and adhere to the five-minute time length. The audience picks the favorite in three categories: funniest, most poignant and overall best; the winner of the latter is invited back to the Grand Slam in February.
Walker is a public speaking coach and Rolle a voiceover actor and musician; both wanted to find a reason to be on stage and, as big fans of The Moth Radio Hour storytelling podcast, they decided to start their own story slam in Boulder last year. Now they host the show and interject original songs and one-line stories in keeping with the theme.
Past themes have included Edge, Committed, Heat and Busted. Some of their favorite stories have been from a Boulder policeman who was the first responder to a forest fire, a biker who became a quadriplegic and a girl whose injury helped her gain confidence in her Spanish skills. To tell a compelling story, Walker says, there needs to be some intrigue.
"Life is going on normal, then something unexpected happens and we learn something new," she says. "There has to be some mystery and some suspense. You don't want to let the audience know how it's going to turn out. People need to be curious."
One of the most important facets of the slam is its focus on honesty. People have such good material from their own lives that there's no need to invent a story, Walker says.
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And honesty puts people on the line. "You have to share what really happened in your life and it lets the audience see you," Rolle says. "Sometimes the stories are really heartbreaking. When you see someone who's really worked on their story, it's very powerful.
Each slam showcases a few pre-selected speakers, and this month's will feature Eryc Eyl, a fan of Truth Be Told. He says the main goal of his stories is to resonate with the audience. "I feel like when you share something of yourself that connects with other people, and can maybe help other people in a similar situation, there's an element that I gave something of value to someone," Eyl says. "That's the rewarding part for me."
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Follow Amanda Moutinho on Twitter at @amandamoutinho.