Thursday, 13 October 2016

Story Slam at Brody Studios

Here I go! Taking the stage at Story Slam
As I take to the stage, the crowd cheers me on. I swallow any nerves, draw on the bottle of wine that has lent me the confidence to do this... and launch into my tale.

This is Story Slam at Brody Studios. The format is simple: the audience volunteer to tell a story linked to a theme (suitably for a maiden event, this week it is 'Beginner's Luck'), they put their names in a hat and Nis, the host, draws them randomly. Each storyteller takes the stage, and members of the audience are asked to award them marks out of ten for delivery and for the tale itself. At the end, points are added up and the winner is announced. There are only two rules: the story has to be true, and it can be no longer than five minutes. It's hilarious, often moving, and incredibly diverse: there are yarn-spinners from the USA and UK, but also Denmark, Finland and Syria.

Later, I catch up with Nis Sperling - host, organiser and brave first storyteller of the night - to ask him about his inspirations, fears when starting a new event, and where he sees Story Slam going in the future.

Nils Sperling, host and organiser of Story Slam

"As a trained rhetorician I have always been very fond of all forms of public presentation. Adding a (friendly) competition element just makes it all the more enjoyable, and puts everybody on their toes. I find Poetry Slams a bit too elitist and, honestly speaking, a little earnest and boring. Stand-up comedy, on the other hand, is a bit too daunting to properly entice the audience into becoming performers. So for me, Story Slam is the perfect middle ground where the experts can show off and the enthusiast amateurs can practice their skills (and the occasional super talents can be discovered).

"I have participated in a few Story Slams in Denmark but never hosted one before. Budapest is a good place to start due to the relatively large expat-community who are often curious to try new things and meet new people gathered around a cool activity.

"For me the main fear was that no one would show up and that no one would volunteer to share their stories. I have experienced a few story slams in Denmark, where ten people showed up and only three people told a story. This means the whole shebang comes to an awkward halt after 15 minutes and that can be a bit of an anti-climax. Fortunately, this was not the case with the first Brody Story Slam, where we had 12 story-tellers: around the perfect number providing entertainment for around an hour and a half. For me, the most enjoyable part of the evening was to experience the diversity in the stories and presentation-styles and to see how differently people enjoy and evaluate stories. Each has a preference and this is what makes story-telling such a great art-form.

"Brody Studios is a great partner for slightly bold cultural events in Budapest. It’s a curious venue who welcome new and different types of social activities because they want a big diversity in audience as well. If you have the idea they will really lift the logistical and technical aspect and contribute to a proper and smooth execution.

"For the future, I of course hope we will continuously have a great showing and lots of engaged story-tellers who get to discover their own potential. But I think it could also be really cool to have a group of repeat offenders who do battle month after month and go for the 'crown'."

They say the world is a patchwork of stories, and events like this make it clear how colourful and diverse that patchwork is. The next Story Slam is at Brody Studios on Tuesday 25th October.

Another brave yarn-spinner begins...

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