Every Wednesday night writers and speakers of all kinds can be found at Chatterbox storytelling events, a place where expression and passion for storytelling can be found center stage taking the mic.
“It’s live drama,” storyteller Dennis Burke said. “There’s always someone in the crowd that says something that’s fairly amazing.”
The storytellers of Chatterbox are as spontaneous as the stories they tell. If a storyteller has a story they want to share there’s nothing stopping them from doing so. It’s a walk-in event where anyone can participate, whether it’s someone with a pre-planned story or just a pedestrian walking by.
“It’s called a club,” Producer of Chatterbox Jessie Ballie said. “I wanted there to be an accessible mic available for people to come and share their stories in a way that was uninhibited.”
While Chatterbox is an open mic event, Ballie provides storytellers who come with a challenge, which is to tell a story in some relation to that evening’s theme, with hopes of triggering certain stories from people.
“The theme’s are kind of random, I try to make them as vague as possible,” Ballie said. “If it fits in that theme a little bit, I’m into it. Let’s talk about it.”
The theme this weeks was long distance, which could be interpreted however the storyteller wanted. It could’ve been a story about a long distance relationship or when you accidentally made a long distance call and charged a bunch of money, Ballie said. The theme provided an umbrella for ideas, while still being vague enough for the originality and creativity it takes to share a story.
The stories told for long distance were different and unique according to the person telling them.
Storyteller Leah Judith talked about the long distance her and her friend traveled to go to a concert only to be turned down due to not enough space. Instead of turning back around, they drove even further until they hit New Orleans.
Storyteller’s Nicole and Ron read individual narratives about how they maintained their marriage and love for each other while Ron was in the military. Nicole told how the long distance from Ron affected her health and her well being and the struggles that came with being a unique military wife. Ron read that he didn’t plan for a long distance relationship but he knew that there’s no true way to make a long distance relationship work; it just does.
“Whatever the case may be, everyone has a unique experience and this is a more tangible way to look at that,” Ballie said, hoping to create a place where people can be one hundred percent themselves without judgement.
Chatterbox isn’t a place of performance; it’s not a place for attention. For Ballie, Chatterbox is a place for your story to be told.
“There’s people that care about your story. There’s people that care about your voice. It’s not something that there is a ton of in our society right now,” she said. “People need to connect. People need to have community. It has the ability to be a lot of things for a lot of people.”
Chatterbox Storytelling events are held every Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. at Fair Trade Coffee on First Avenue. For more information on these events or how to tell your story, go to chatterboxazstorytelling.com.
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