Nationally known storyteller Judith Black kicks off workshop and slam Feb. 16

Storytelling SLAM turns live, unscripted stories into art form

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 3:30pm

    HOPE — Live storytelling has become a thing in the last decade where people stand up in front of an audience and without notes, tell a story that captivates the audience. Sometimes they're screechingly funny; sometimes they just gut you. NPR hosts its own version called Snap Judgment and The is particularly noted for its "terrifying and exhilirating" live events. This Saturday evening, Feb. 16, the Midcoast will get a chance to witness a storytelling slam (essentially a contest of highly engaging stories from local talent) led by Judith Black, a nationally known storyteller. Sweet Tree Arts, a community arts organization in Hope, which just launched in February, are kicking off their very first event with Story SLAM.

    Having been featured 10 times at the National Storytelling Festival, and serving three times as Teller-in Residence at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesboro, Tenn., Judith Black is sought after as both a performer and workshop leader throughout the world. Her original historic stories strive to offer nontraditional vantage points on people, places, and events, in the hopes of creating a broader understanding of our national past.

    Black will be running a workshop from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  in which she will show people how  "to take a story that you love and bring it alive," said Lindsay Pinchbeck, Sweet Tree Arts Director. "She's an amazing storyteller and has won a number of award." Her website, Stories Alive, give some clips of her past perfomances.

    "Storytelling is an art that we've kind of lost. How you bring a story alive depends on your gestures, your facial expressions or body movement. The craft of it is really interesting. You don't have to nail it perfectly, you just have to tell it with passion," said Pinchbeck. "Traditionally, it's a bit of a competition, but we're just having fun with it."

    Starting at 5 p.m. on the same day, the Story SLAM will kick off with five local storytellers: Andy Swift, Tracy Lord, David Lyman, Eliza Greenman and Jerry Stone. They will have five minutes each to tell a story based around the same theme: Opportunity.

    "These are just five remarkable extroverts who love to tell a story," said Pinchbeck.

    For example, Jerry Stone will be talking about how he went from being an orphan to an ordained minister.

    Note there will be adult content in these stories and may not be appropriate for a younger audience. Tickets for this fundraiser are $25 in advance and $30 at the door available on line at or at the Hope General Store. A light dinner is included with the ticket and there will be a cash bar.

    Doors open at 5 p.m. and there is limited seating (They have only 20 seats left.)

     Kay Stephens can be reached at