My favourite singer, Dianne Reeves, sometimes ends her concerts by exhorting her audience to tell their stories, and ‘may all your stories have meaningful and happy endings’.
It’s a Monday night, and it’s cold, dark and dreary and Dianne Reeves is, alas, not playing London tonight. Monday’s a rubbish night anyway, so what’s a girl to do to cheer the evening along to a speedy close? Take in a story-telling evening in South London, that’s what. I know, SOUTH London. That means crossing the river, and at this time of night!
In the spirit of understanding creative motivation, I was keen to visit the Spark London event in Brixton. Just to observe, of course. I would sit quietly at the back and bother nobody. I really didn’t know what to expect,or even if I knew what storytelling was.
(See Spark’s Website – http://stories.co.uk/london/)
The house lights dimmed (actually, they were already dimmed, but I’m trying to set the mood here) and the storytelling began. Joanna opened with a break-up tale, which involved the film, Desperately Seeking Susan. From the back of the room, a lightbulb quietly lit up over my head. That reminded me of seeing that self same (dreadful) film in 1985. Is that worth telling? I asked myself this question, via the discreet medium of Twitter, and almost immediately was Tweeted back by the organisers ‘Anyone can tell a story’. The gauntlet was thrown down, so up I went.
Having done stand-up in my youth in rooms packed with baying hounds, or stag parties, I forget which, I felt not a shred of nerves on that stage in front of this warm and willing audience. Their Monday night was also being enhanced, and partly because they wanted it to be. The trouble with the heckling stag parties is that they want you to fail. How does that make for great entertainment for anyone?
This audience was just lovely, and the stories, all compelling in different ways, were given the space they needed to flow. Martha from Scotland’s story of a death threat was a particular highlight, and she’d never performed before! She was just as funny on the tube going home, with her tale of buying a spiralizer. Some people are just born to storytelling. Some people confine their talents to anecdotes told over a pint of beer, but these are still stories that bear the telling and leave their listeners with a warm, fuzzy glow, even if, in the haze of the morning after, they can’t quite recall the tale. Others tell their stories through music or painting, but stories they remain.
It’s true, we can all tell stories. As we know, there is nothing worse than an untold story, especially for the teller.
To top the evening off, all the performers are entered into a draw for free cinema tickets and I only flipping won them, didn’t I? Not that that was my motivation. Oh no.
I chatted to a couple of fellow performers after the show, and hope to persuade at least one to talk about their experience, and their motivation, in a future podcast.
Thank you, Spark London, for a great night. I am still feeling the warm and fuzzy glow.