The first story slam I went to in October, “Truth Be Told – The Boulder Story Slam,” was an eye-opening experience. The venue was a back room with a small stage at a restaurant, Shine. The place was packed. Servers squeezed through the rows and tables to take order for drinks and munchies. I had iced tea and some of the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had (looking forward to more at the next Boulder Story Slam next Sunday, April 19!). Plenty of people had beer.
As the evening went on, more beer flowed and as the stories were told and the musical interludes played and the judges’ scores were announced after each story, the audience got more, well, relaxed as well as louder and looser. I’m not a beer drinker myself, but it was a fun atmosphere with the beer and stories.
And then in the 2nd half, perhaps she was storyteller #7 or 8, a young woman had her name drawn and went and stood on the stage by the mic to tell her story. She was telling about going with her kindergarten-teacher father on Take Your Daughter to Work Day.
With a full minute left to her time (5 minutes), she went blank.
She just went blank. And she spent the next minute simply, only, giggling nervously into the microphone.
And then when the time-limit signal sounded, she spent the entire minute of the allowed grace period…still standing at the mic and giggling nervously.
It was painful. Poor thing. It was just her reaction to having her mind going blank on a stage in front of a roomful of audience. It can happen.
And I was afraid that the audience would turn nasty on her. Some had been rather raucous the previous couple of stories…
But kindness and support ruled the day!
As the giggle-silence expanded past the first several seconds, people began gently calling out things like, “That’s okay!” “You can do it!” “You’d been saying…” and then gave prompts from what she’d already told us…
It was still painful, and difficult to understand why she stayed up there the entire time including the full-minute grace period; and I couldn’t help but wish the hosts/emcees would step up during that eternal grace-time minute to help her bring it to an end. The audience even started some smattering applause before it was entirely up, to support her and try to help her draw it to an end…but she stayed up there until the final-final time signal was given, and then one of the emcees stood up and the full audience gave her applause as she moved away from the mic. And there was nary a catcall.
Made me even more interested in checking out more slams…(and so now we have this April A-Z blog series: “Story Slams & Traditional Storytelling – Bridging the Distance”). I’m looking forward to next Sunday’s story slam in Boulder.
Thanks for reading – Pam
The photo of apples is one that I took last October. Why apples at the top of this post? – Why not?! “Fruit of human kindness,” perhaps…!
Cheerful guy with beer image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net