STORYTELLER.NET , October 2004,http://www.storyteller.net/articles/146 _
Event Review: Odyssey Storytelling in Tucson
by K. Sean Buvala
Let me tell you my story. We call this theme, "Important Places."
Not being a regular of downtown Tucson, I thought the theater where the Odyssey Storytelling sessions was a little hard to find at first. Maybe that is what makes it so intriguing. And, I wasn’t sure if I was going through the correct door once I got there.
I really needed to find the theater. Traveling from Phoenix to Tucson is a bit of a stretch for my body. Maybe I shouldn’t drink so many BigGulp sodas. Although my map seemed clear, actually finding the "Wilde Playhouse" in downtown Tucson took a little work. But I am glad I found it all: the bathroom, the theater and the stories within it.
And what of the door issue? Once my wife and I dropped our stuff off at the small table in this intimate and unique theater, I made my way to the restrooms. Now, the door for the women’s room was clearly marked. But it was not so for the men’s bathroom. In addition to the Women’s room, there was a blank door in the back and also a door with a tapestry-looking thing on it. Hmm, did it have some kind of mystical male-bonding meaning, this tapestry on the door or was it simply the way to help determine that this was the door I was to go through? Well, it was time to make a decision.
Push. Oh, good, I found the right place. Such a relief it was, on so many levels.
In some ways, I can imagine that is what it is like for someone who has never experienced adult storytelling as intimately, truthful, impactful, intense and just plain fun as they will at the Tucson Odyssey Storytelling nights. Look at the metaphorical door before you. Could this evening of six people simply telling their own personal stories, each with their own twist on themes such as "Things I meant to do," "My brilliant career," and "Love and Marriage" be worth the risk of just pushing open the door?
Yes, without a doubt, these evenings of telling are worth finding and experiencing. Odyssey Storytelling is about two hours (including an intermission) of six tellers from all dimensions of life sharing their unique views on the theme chosen by the ringmaster and teller blender, Penelope Simmons. Encouraged to tell (instead of read) their stories, the tellers spend a few well organized and thought-grazing minutes sharing the view of their own lives. On the night we attended, we saw various degrees of experience, from several who have obviously told before, those who were nervous and shaky, one who read her story anyway, to one who catharsis-ed all over her audience. Laughter, pain, joy, authenticity and goofiness linked the audience and tellers alike.
What I especially like about adult telling is that, done well, the audience blends into one another. As stories are shared, the "my space/your space" issues diminish, the room breathes easier and conversation and smiles flow more easily. When you go, and I hope you do, expect the full range of language and metaphor- this particular night might have been rated "R." Unlike the movies, however, there’s no presentation for shock value from the tellers. It’s just the lives of those sharing and speaking like adults speak.
Take the chance and visit the Odyssey Storytelling series. Get there early. Penelope says its standing room only these days. Buy a sandwich, dessert or a soda at the food service counter. Say hello to a person you have not met before. Maybe even volunteer to tell at a future session.
Push. Oh, good. You’ve found the right place. It might be a relief, on so many levels.