Production Notes

November 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

I’ve been taking a writing class with Chicago’s 2nd Story.
They meet twice a month in a wine bar and read/tell their stories. Music is used to introduce stories as well as within stories.
Between stories a flight of wine is served by the storytellers so that they can interact with the audience.
Side note: they also produce multiple events in other venues around town, but Webster’s Wine Bar is ‘their’ place.
In addition to learning new stuff about the writing process and the 2nd story model in particular (1st person narrative, begin in action, dialogue, etc) and now totally understand the words “what you do doesn’t fit in with our aesthetic”, I’m learning how they produce events.
Not planning on talking again about personal stories vs folktales for adults and which one is ‘better’.
But since they produce differently than the typical ‘storytelling’ events I’ve been involved in, and are quite successful in the niche they’ve created, here’s what I’m  thinking today:
What I Like About the 2nd Story Production Model
1-A) They give great descriptions of exactly what their event is about. Folks don’t need to try to figure out what storytelling is. They know what they’re going to get before they walk thru the door.
We say that forgiveness is divine, but what about those we can’t forgive? Join 2nd Story this November as our tellers share stories of hating and being hated, of forgiving and being forgiven. From a young woman’s imaginary internet feud with a local celebrity, to man’s struggle to be at peace with the life and death of his alcoholic father, our tellers will guide you on a journey through the instinct to hate, and the challenge to forgive.
1-B) They know exactly what everyone will be telling before they arrive that night, thus enabling them to offer the specific description.
No teller/reader arrives, looks at the audience, and then decides what’s right.
Instead they tell their audiences in advance what stories will be told — drawing an audience that is interested in exactly, more or less, what they are offering.
2) They offer a descriptive title. Rather than ‘Storytelling Festival’ or even ‘Tellabration’ (no offense intended and not trying to stir the pot and get everyone riled up (but does anyone besides storytellers know what Tellabration means?)), they might say:

A Cold Day in Hell: Stories of Hatred and Forgiveness

3-A) They get the storytellers in a room, more than once, and coach the stories.

Must be available to coach to participate.
It’s being produced under the 2nd Story banner — they want quality assurance that it will reflect well on 2nd Story.
Yes, it is beautifully written — and they know this because the stories were pre-selected during an audition process. This audition process involved sending the story in via email, then showing up for a live reading.
Yes, perhaps you have told it before.
But this is 2nd Story where we want it to be more conversational than ‘performed’, where we want to get to the heart of the matter, where we want to make sure it moves from party anecdote to some sort of universal appeal, where we want your best. And maybe you haven’t even unearthed your ‘best’ in this story.
So now we’re going to refine the story — coach it, point out the good stuff, note the stuff that could be better, make sure it comes in on time, and coach the presentation.
Side note 1: This is practical and do-able for 2nd Story, because it is Chicago based — storytellers live locally.
Side note 2: Yes, they want it to fit into their mold — not going to argue that.
Side note 3: Yes, I recognize a ‘theatre’ mindset in the production process.
Side note 4: They’re never surprised by the story going over time or by the perhaps ‘wrong’ story choice for this audience.
In ‘our’ world, we’ve seen both.
Side note 5: Editorial: But as I sit in my class with the instructors who are telling me all about the 2nd Story model, who are coaching us in the 2nd Story art form, with (some) people who might want to tell in a 2nd Story event, I’m thinking: Wow, this has never happened with the storytelling events I know. I’ve been involved on both sides of the equation — festival, conference, event — producing and telling — and the process is always the same: story chosen, bring it, tell it. I’ve listened to audition tapes and thought, “I’d really like to choose this story for this event but it needs a bit of coaching”.
And ‘we’ don’t do that. So maybe the story is selected, but not coached. Maybe the story is not selected.
Either way, we’re not growing our audience if we go the first route and we’re not growing our storytellers if we go the second route. And in the end we’re not growing our art form.
4) They know who they are:
We tell our stories so you’ll tell yours.
5) They don’t shoot for the BIG audiences. They collaborate with small venues and fill them up.
They sell tickets in advance online for a reduced price in order to ‘guarantee’ seating. Yes, the venue is small. Yes, if you want a seat then plan on getting it early so as not to be disappointed at the door that night.
6) They do shoot for the sponsors and grants and have figured out how to make that happen. Note the bottom of their website with that information listed.
7) They’ve got an army of enthusiastic volunteers each taking a piece of the task and running with it — marketing, new site development, grant writing, sponsors, production, sound, music, website, podcast, etc, etc, etc
Side note: I haven’t yet figured out how they’ve energized and mobilized this army of worker bees, but that’s my next goal.
8) They offer a continuous stream of various classes.
Expounding nearly done:
9) I realize you can’t compare a national or state storytelling organization with a local Chicago one — apples, oranges, and all that.
But what can we take from this model and use to be better than we were before?
And for those of us working locally — who can get storytellers together before an event, or who are developing small venues, or are looking for new directions, or who are open to considering that we can join forces with other forms and models of ‘storytelling’ — what can we take from this model and use to be better than we were before?
Side note: Editorial: Assuming we do want to be better than we were before.
Wanna talk?
Let me know.

Entry filed under: Just Do It -- Stories from the Field, Steering the Craft_Writing Exercises. Tags: , , .

The Junkyard Wonders – Storytelling for Bullying Prevention Who’s Teaching Who?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Wait, Wait, There’s More!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 26 other followers

%d bloggers like this: