Stories can take such different forms. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, and as an adult I’ve turned into a regular theater-goer. But I also love listening to good stories. This American Life and Serial are my favorite radio shows, and recently I’ve started downloading podcasts from Live from the Moth. Although I’ve enjoyed attending TMI, Gina Gold’s live storytelling event at which performers share intensely personal (and often hilarious) stories onstage, I was disappointed in their new venue in Oakland, which has overly bright lighting and poor sound. So to get my storytelling fix I tried out a newish Marsh offering: Tell It on Tuesday. Conveniently located (for me) in downtown Berkeley, it’s a pleasant way to spend a Tuesday evening.
It’s cabaret-style seating, and the bar serves a variety of beverages from fruit juice to cocktails. Hostesses Bridget Frederick and Rebecca Fisher introduce local talent that includes a musical guest who plays while people are settling in and getting drinks. The night I went, we were treated to smoky chanteuse Bekah Barnett.
The storytellers themselves represented a range of styles, providing an eclectic and entertaining mix. Tim Ereneta is a professional storyteller who ordinarily favors folk tales and fairy tales but shared a true story of his recent appearance at a storyteller conference. Poised and professional, he was my favorite of the night.
Nina G’s piece was titled “Going Beyond Inspiration,” and it relied mostly on her experience as the best-known stand-up comedian who stutters. (She frankly admits that she is perhaps the only serious stutterer who chooses to make her living as a comic.) It was great to see someone live her dream and not be afraid of her circumstances interfering. She sees herself as an activist who lets the general public know that stuttering is not connected to intelligence and is only as debilitating as one allows it to be.
Theresa Donahoe is currently working on a full-length one-woman show and presented excerpts, which she titled “Confessions of a Late Bloomer.” Her humor was more in the realm of everyday thoughts and focused on sharing the person who she has become, shaped by her childhood. Barefoot and energetic, she embodied her own family members with gusto.
The most interesting offering was performed by Gary Walker, an actor who has added writing to his repertoire. Handsome and engaging, he recounts a seminal evening in a luxurious home in such an open, detailed, and matter-of-fact way that the reason he is there is unknown until he reveals it halfway through the performance with a calm deliberateness.
These are not children’s bedtime stories but lived moments that are sometimes poignant and often funny, shared in an intimate setting. Catch the net show at the Marsh in Berkeley on September 29th.