SpeakeasyDC in Ode Magazine
Posted July 24th, 2012 by Amy Saidman
Tell me a Story in Ode Magazine
July 24, 2012
by Diane Daniel
Pixie Windsor knows what it feels like to happen upon a murder scene, to be treated too sympathetically when you’re in a wheelchair, or to suffer silently as your co-worker takes a fall for you because you’re too terrified to admit you’re gay. She hasn’t lived through those experiences, but feels she has after hearing those stories unfold onstage at SpeakeasyDC, one of the dozens of live storytelling events across the country and beyond.
“I love it that they’re true stories and they take me into worlds I know nothing about. They’re very thought-provoking and raw and real. No airbrushing or glitz,” says Windsor, a Washington, D.C., resident and store owner who’s been going to Speakeasy events every month since they started in 1997. “The audience and the speakers are very diverse—different age groups, races, socioeconomic levels. But we have this one thing in common: stories.”
As Windsor can attest—she has to arrive more than an hour early to snag a good seat—more and more people crave the human connection and universal truths found in personal narratives and the chance to share experiences, advocate for change and understand ourselves better. And scientific studies show the effects of storytelling to be physiological as well as emotional.
The burgeoning storytelling scene is “a reflection of our culture,” says Jimmy Neil Smith, director of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee. “We’ve moved from traditional performance, where only the professionals tell stories, to a more participatory event. It builds on what was already there: a recognition that we all have stories. We live our lives in a network of stories, and all stories matter. We’re seeing a significant growth in storytelling, both in performance as well as in application out in the world to help us create a better life and a better place.”
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