2nd Story Opening Show: An Evening of Story and Fun

2nd Story Opening Show: An Evening of Story and Fun

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Have you heard of 2nd Story? If you haven’t, you should know about this. It’s a live storytelling series in Chicago that features four stories a show, told live in front of an audience. In between each story, the audience is given time to talk amongst themselves (or with other tables) about what the stories reminded them of in their own lives. That’s the “second story” component—it’s the story you share with your friends over a glass of wine or an appetizer.

It kicks so much butt!

I’ll be a featured storyteller for the October show, “Live Through This: Stories from the School of Hard Knocks,” and I decided to go to the opening show of the season with a friend and a fellow storyteller from the October show.

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The stories were incredible. You walk into the venue and are directed upstairs to a private bar area where there are tables and comfortable seating. Here, you sit with a friend, order some wine or an appetizer, and chat until the show starts. Since this was the season opener, this show was special. Most of the board members were there, and before each of the four stories, the storyteller was presented by a board member or company member of 2nd Story who offered a “flash” piece, really an “amuse-bouche” of story that led into the “entree” of the featured pieces. I’ve seen a few different shows before, and this really added to the whole concept—it was like the stories themselves became second stories, and then the audience stories became thirds. I hope they will do this format some more in the future.

The lighting fades, the storyteller is lit, and a masterful, careful scoring accompanies each storyteller’s piece. First, the audience laughs with the hijinks of a woman on her first adults-only vacation who explored her sexuality for the first time, at the age of thirty. We talk about our crazy first time experiences and our first adults-only vacations at my table. Next, we hear about a woman’s trip as a seminary student in Venezuela and the bond she formed with another student that reached past an experience so singular to them yet so universal. We discuss our own faiths and times when we had those friends that were only there for a little bit but whom left indelible marks on us. The third story is about a man trying to find his way and recognition after leaving an artistic career with the Neo-Futurists, creating a career with astrology, and finally leaving for a steady job. We talk about the crazy leaps we made, tried, and failed at. Finally, we are treated to a woman’s experience trying S&M play for the first time and the metaphorical marks it left on her awakening. The show ends, and we settle our tabs to leave.

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This is a great storytelling event. It allows the audience to participate, really participate, but not in the way of audience-participation theater. Instead, a carefully written, revised, rehearsed, and scored piece is given as a treat to the audience—really, it’s given to friends at a bar over an intimate glass of wine (that’s what you feel). The company says many of the stories that are pitched to and accepted by 2nd Story come from the moments in between the stories told, the moments when you talk to your friends after the show and say, “Man, have I got a story for you.”

The show leaves you inspired to write, to tell your stories, and to question, “What have I done that merits time in front of an audience?” At least, it did for me. I did all of these things on my ride home and after the show. And, Marginalia readers, have I got some stories for you all.

As always, leave questions and comments in my margins.