It is one of the most basic of human things we do: to tell stories. We've been doing it since the very beginning.
And yet it is something that is missing from many of our lives. We don't often tell stories anymore. We let television and movies and Facebook tell us stories, but that isn't the same as coming together with friends and strangers alike, and sharing stories. Our stories, personal and collective, are important; we don't need ad agencies or movie studios to frame the narratives for us; these are our stories. Or at least they should be in a civil society.
Vancouver Story Slam is the second-oldest storytelling group of its kind in North America. It provides a safe and inviting space for storytellers, and lovers of stories, on the second Tuesday of every month at the Cottage Bistro on Main in Vancouver.
It's a competition of sorts to be sure; prizes are awarded as determined by the audience, but it's also a place to connect with other people in that simplest of ways: the telling of stories. Some are funny, some reverential, and sometimes, some aren't even stories. It's the gamble we take when we enter the door; stories, and their tellers, are not pre-screened. There's a sense of wonder with every new month, and it's always fun.
Susan Cormier is the organiser of Vancouver Story Slam and Bryant Ross is its genial host, and together they've created a new and impressive buzz around the event, with increasing audience numbers and more and more new storytellers vying for one of ten spots each month.
Sherry and I have told stories at the Story Slam, and we've become regular audience members. My sister Susan Dickson has also been attending for many months and took to the stage in March, telling a highly personal story of loss and healing.
At times the Vancouver Story Slam can be quite amazing. The Cottage Bistro is worthy of a story in itself. Come. Laugh, cry and celebrate storytelling. Mood swings are acceptable.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.