Friday, November 13, 2009

Amy on Storytelling

“I am third generation DC. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a comedian. My idol was Carol Burnett. I did improv for a while with Washington Improv Theater and taught a couple of courses there. One night, I ended up going to see the Washington Storytellers Theater, that is what SpeakeasyDC used to be called. The event was an open mic storytelling night. It seemed quirky and the perfect thing for what I was interested in. There was a smattering of people and a mix of stories. My roommate noticed that I was going to the open mic nights a lot and saw that they were looking for a program assistant so she suggested I apply. I took the job and hated it at first, but now I love it.

DC's one of the biggest theater towns, but the city mostly puts on plays. Whereas in New York, Chicago and LA, there is more experimental and smaller theaters for people to do whatever the hell they want. So, I think that the bar is high to get on stage in DC between the artist and non-artist. You are either a consumer or a creator. Storytelling, the way that we do it, shrinks that gap. Any person who walks in off the street can tell a story. We will help them do it. I can’t tell you how many people come over and thank us for helping them explore their artistic side. All day, they are in a government office or a contract lawyer looking at documents and this is one of the only creative outlets that they have found. It is not the only one available of course, but everyone has stories. We help people here share those stories.

"My DC story that I like to tell on stage is about being different. I was working in a miserable cubicle downtown. It was draining my soul and I was trying to figure out what to do. I would spoon confectioners sugar from the box just to keep alive. I walked out one day and saw this tall guy in pink spandex with yellow headphones running backwards while spinning around and screaming as he ran into oncoming traffic. I was like, 'Oh my God, that guy is crazy. I want to be crazy like that, too!' I was in a suit and pumps and I was frozen watching this guy thinking, how can I be that guy. This cop came over to me and said, 'Yeah, that's Cedric. He's as sane as you and me. He's an accountant.' See, that's good crazy, someone who doesn't care and just does what he wants to. I was going to put on pink spandex and meet him one day, but there is no way that I could keep up. The moral of the story is that he makes that choice to be himself here. He is unafraid of looking like a crazy person in the heart of downtown DC by doing what makes him happy. At that time, I was walking around DC in a constant cubicle. That guy really inspired me to pursue what I wanted to do and be more crazy in my life."

Find out more information about telling a story, hearing a story and learning about storytelling through SpeakeasyDC here.

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