In 1990, a small group of storytellers and storytelling enthusiasts–spearheaded by Linda Fang and Ann Mesritz–got together to form the Washington Storytellers Theatre. Their goal was to bring professional storytellers from around the country to the Washington, DC area to perform and teach the art of storytelling.
Inspired by The Green Mill poetry slam in Chicago and Stories at the Moth in New York, then Executive Director Robert Revere, along with the help of performer Leslie Sapp, began The Speakeasy in 1997 as complement to WST’s main stage programming. The intent was to give locals and non-professional storytellers a space to tell stories. The open mic was held first at the old Black Cat Club (1997-2000), then moved to HR-57 (2001-2006), then to Cada Vez in 2006 which was remodeled and changed to Station 9 where the event took place until August 2009. Currently, the open mic takes place at Town Danceboutique at 8th and U Streets, NW, Washington, DC.
Amy Saidman became the Speakeasy’s Artistic Director in 2001 and the Executive Director of WST in 2006. At that time, the decision was made to discontinue the programs that featured out-of-town performers in order to focus entirely on the cultivation of local talent and the development of personal, true stories. To reflect that change, the organization’s trade name was officially changed from Washington Storytellers Theatre to SpeakeasyDC, Stephanie Garibaldi was hired as the Education Director, and programs were expanded to support the new mission including comprehensive coaching, classes, ensemble performances, professional services, and a podcast. Each year, SpeakeasyDC exposes thousands of people to this brand of storytelling and trains hundreds to tell their own.
SpeakeasyDC now produces several original ensemble shows, with unique casts, each year. Past shows include: top-selling and critically acclaimed Capital Fringe Festival shows Chocolate Jesus, Revenge of the Cat-Headed Baby and Other True Tales of Life & Death; The Sin Show; Sucker for Love Valentine’s Day Special; Outside Looking In: A Tribute to “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” for DC’s Big Read; and Mommie Dearest Mother’s Day Special.
Each year, in addition to producing over about 20 original performance, we offer over a dozen educational opportunities, train almost 300 new storytellers a year, publish a free bi-weekly podcast; host multiple video channels on YouTube and Vimeo, lead outreach programs, host community events, and offer trainings for professionals. Our clients have included The American Heart Association, The Microcredit Summit Campaign, Amnesty International, the Congressional Hunger Center, and Brailsford & Dunlavey.
The old days at HR-57
by Aaron Rockett for Push Pause on Verizon FiOS.
December 7, 2013
December 10, 2013
January 10, 2014
January 14, 2014
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