The rules of Storyteller’s Night are simple: tell one personal story prompted by a theme in 10 minutes (+/-). Someone asked me before coming if it was some hardcore write and read event and I told her that it’s more nerdcore than anything else. It’s open to anyone and different kinds of people have come to tell stories. Last night we did the sixth version of the little event, four of them have been in the studio, and the very first one was held in the now lost treasure of a place: La Belle Aurore bookshop. That was a couple of years ago and was the brainchild of our friend, Anne Melody, who is now far away in a more hip(ster) place called San Francisco.
I can’t really say that the event has grown by leaps and bounds. I still believe some things are better kept small. Although we have tried to make it bigger, like at LitFest, which was also good, but a different kind of good. Other than picking the event date, offering a venue and making the posters (we enjoy this) we leave all the other parts to the people that come to the event. After the theme is announced, some folks will volunteer to tell stories and they are free to bring a couple of friends, a sort of group curated guest list and in the end its a good mix of friends and would-be friends. When we reach a number of interested people – 30 is usual, we’re all set and then the night just happens.
The theme from yesterday was On the Road and, as always, the stories from the people – half of which were first timers – were surprising and charming. Who would not smile at the thought of little Julie Jhoy telling of her first ever jeepney ride as a child calling, her newfound wealth as “nine-one-peso-coins”. Her tale is complete with the mishap of getting lost kilometres away from her house and finding her way back home together with her trusty and undeniably amazing companion: the Jollibee school bag (trolley slash backpack). “I just held my chin up so that the grown ups would think I knew what I was doing,” she said, somewhere along those lines as the now-adult version of that adventurous child told her story looking down at her notes, her hair covering her face the entire time.
Its not a new concept. How many secret crushes were indeed revealed in the solace of a college dormitory or details of the spooky neighbour divulged on the floor of the living room that one humid summer. Only now the stories are caught between what once was – a yearning for younger days and ‘adulting’. Like Julie Jhoy’s story or Darliza’s – about the time she spent in Hotel Cecil – the infamous hotel of multiple murders or Carla’s incredibly candid style of telling everyone how she once attempted to eat (in her own words) “all the creatures of the ocean.”
I feel excited every time because I do not quite know what to expect. Last night, Anne told us of the day she once saw a helicopter crash – not an everyday thing. Or Paolo telling us about roadtrips with his father. There are stories about fears (dogs) and cravings (balut). Sometimes there are funny people in everyday life that come up and tell of things that move you inexplicably and then there are people like Silver Paul who I always thought was a super serious person (I don’t know, a future lawyer with a badass vibe? :-)) who always seems to make everybody laugh. Even when he is telling everyone of his great heartbreak, people are laughing.
I think this is the magic here – that there are many things that we cannot say in the course of a daily conversation, things that would seem awkward or out-of-place if we just suddenly shared these bits and pieces of ourselves that we treasure. Some things are just better expressed to an audience in a dark room, with people huddled around on the floor, preferably with hot drink and sweets, of course. See you in the next one.