It’s a chilly evening in Calgary, but at The Pint Public House, the mood is warm and inviting as participants take on this month’s Calgary Story Slam theme, Forgotten.
Sitting down at a dining table, tonight’s story slam winner Gordon Churchill shares the experience of telling their stories in front of an audience.
“The thing that I always look for is getting to the place where the room is quiet, because they are listening so intensely, and you know they’re listening, not just their heads but their hearts. And that’s when you know when you made the engagement and that’s gold,” says Churchill with immense enthusiasm in his voice.
Churchill has been a storyteller for over 30 years.
Tonight’s story is about his mother and how it felt to see her slowly lose her memories. He adds that the memories we hold as individuals are what makes us who we are.
“What this story means to me, is that we are all shaped by our memories and we are all vulnerable. The thing that we do for each other is we remember, you know, and we remember the stories about each other and that’s what keeps us there. Because when they are all gone, we are all gone.”
Victoria Banner is a stand-up comedian and participant for the Calgary Story Slam. For this month's theme, 'Forgotten,' she talks about an unrequited love in marching band when she was 13 years old. Produced by Richie Nguyen.
Calgary Story Slam is a competitive event where people are offered the chance to tell a story about themselves in 5 minutes. The story is judged by members of the audience based on the relevance to a theme and how good it is. The person with the best story wins a prize, such as tickets for the latest DIY Theatre production, Closer.
Founder Jilliane Yawney says the story slam gives people the opportunity to talk about themselves, with topics ranging from parents dying to a time someone got drunk and insanity ensued.
“You can tell any story – We don’t censor people, and that’s pretty special,” says Yawney.
At the bar with a cold beer in her hands, slam participant and stand-up comedian Victoria Banner talks about how amazing it is to tell these personal stories and how you get connected to others as well.
“I have to stop and listen to how they felt and the funny thing is, no matter what the story is, the highs and lows of the story have the same beats … it doesn’t matter if I did some crazy snowboarding trick or if someone managed to carry their groceries in one go. It’s the same amount of joy, then you realize that everyone's on the same playing field, just to experience joy.”
Previous story slam winner Linda Stewart has been writing poems and stories all her life, but says she never used to tell them to anybody. It has only been the past three-and-a-half years that she has been on stage telling her personal stories.
“It’s nice to be able to tell a story and have somebody listen, and to actually hear what you’re saying, you know and that’s why they’re here. So that’s the objective to me is, not that I wanted to simply to be cheered on or anything, but I like to go and enjoy and maybe influencing somebody...that it’s ok to get up and tell a story. It’s not that hard to do.”
- By Richie Nguyen