Arts & Culture

Spring StorySlam features eight powerful senior storytellers

StorySlams offer students platform to workshop, perform, share lived experiences with others

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sarah Marion ’19 (above) was one of the eight performers in this year’s Spring StorySlam, hosted by the Brown University Storytellers. The event aimed to provide community and a space for students to share their stories.

Eight seniors performed dramatic tellings of their own true stories in this year’s Spring StorySlam, an event hosted by the Brown University Storytellers club. The show featured narratives with a mix of comedic and serious topics — including the turmoil of forbidden love, a lockbox filled with the memories of a deceased family member and a friend’s sleepwalking, snake food eating uncle, among others.

Luke Perrotta ’19 spoke about his strange interactions with Brown Faculty Club guests while working as the resident Easter Bunny and Santa Claus impersonator. He explained that he had never participated in a StorySlam before, but he had experience in stage and film acting. When asked about the show’s impressive audience turn out, Perrotta said, “As far as art goes on this campus and the dependability of good art, stories rate better than most because people really know how to tell a (true) story, … and that’s more reliable than hoping that somebody can invent a fiction.”

In one of the slam’s comedic narratives, Carly Paul ’19 performed a story about her experience participating in a fake hostage drill during her time interning at a US embassy. Paul explained that she became interested in StorySlams after attending and enjoying poetry slams. “What drew me to poetry slams in the first place — and now StorySlams — is the way (that) hearing people’s stories makes you feel and experience things that you never have. … There’s a really cool sense of trust and community that exists in a space like that,” Paul said. 

In the week leading up to the event, the participants spend an hour every day workshopping their stories with the other performers, which Paul said was one of the most rewarding parts of participating in the StorySlam. Perrotta noted that this process, like many other collaborative projects, reinforced the opinion that an outside voice is more valuable than self-evaluation. “Whenever people make a suggestion to you, they’re just probably right. … They probably know if something’s not funny,” Perrotta said.

Abby Neill ’19, one of the event’s coordinators, described the goal of StorySlams: “In creating a platform to share a multitude of stories from different experiences, it widens people’s perspectives and worldviews.” She explained that she liked the way StorySlams mix together performance and real life. Neill also said that many people audition for slams as part of their “bucket list” before they leave the University.

“I basically always hear that (attendees) would want to go to another StorySlam,” Perrotta said. “When I think about all of the people I know, they all have one story, at least, of something really weird,” he continued.

Brown University Storytellers puts on two or three StorySlams every year, according to Neill. Students audition with stories from their lives, and the coordinators choose who will participate in the slam based on performance ability and the quality of the story itself. Out of the 25 students who auditioned this spring, eight were chosen to perform. Neill noted that only two of the performers in this StorySlam had participated in slams in the past, which she appreciated about this year’s cohort. “There are some people who are naturally good storytellers, and then there are some who need a little bit of coaching — but clearly the emotion is there, and their experience is so visceral or real that it makes a good story too. I wouldn’t say there’s a formula,” Neill said.