NYC Storytelling Shows: Flowers Fade, Flowers Bloom

On the eve of this year’s start of fall, I thought I’d do a little writeup on some recent activity in the storytelling scene here in New York (City). Some shows have gone dormant, or discontinued altogether. We all know what the big, stalwart shows are. But for every Moth, RISK! or Soundtrack Series, there’s another 10 shows quietly making an impact (and giving new voices a mic). Here are some of the more interesting ones that have appeared (or reappeared) on the landscape.

Many of these shows don’t have a real web presence beyond Facebook event invites. So if you’re interested, it’s best to get on Facebook and join the NYC storytelling group. Or use Google. Please don’t send me questions. Be the resourceful people I know you are.

New Shows

Start the Car is a new monthly, themed curated show run by Asa Gauen. It’s had one previous installment. Here’s the description: “Start the Car is a multimedia storytelling series taking place at the Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo, Brooklyn. A rotating line-up of storytellers offer up diverse essays, non-fiction and fictionalized stories based around a loose theme and are encouraged to use sound, pictures, written and spoken word, video, music, images, collaboration and any other modes to creatively enhance the narrative.” Next edition is October 10. The theme is “Getting Lost.”

Tank Storytelling Thursdays is a trio of new shows that starts next month. Curated and produced by Nisse Greenberg (previously of Drawn Out Storytelling), they will appear on the first, second and third Thursday of each month at 7pm at the Tank Theatre in midtown. Here are details from the series’ Facebook page:

  • Dingmantics Live (1st Thurs)
    Sam Dingman hosts this monthly open-mic as part of his storytelling podcast “Dingmantics.” Each month, four randomly-selected storytellers will take the stage, followed by a featured performer to close the show. All stories will be recorded for possible inclusion on the podcast, and every performer will take home a recording of their piece. Come share your antics with Dingmantics!
    Next show: October 3rd with Featured Guest: TBA
  • VHS Presents (2nd Thurs)
    Angel Yau takes us into the young minds of comedians, filmmakers, and storytellers by watching the videos they made as future struggling artists and telling the stories behind it before. From movie re-enactments to cable access shows to school projects to simply home videos. Each month, four storytellers get to show videos they worked hard on pre-youtube days and reflect on how they’ve grown today.
    Next show: October 10th featuring TBA. Want to get booked? Send an email.
  • Long Story Long (3rd Thurs)
    There are many storytelling shows out there that offer a slice of life. At the corner of Fringe Festival Street and The Moth Avenue, Eli Reiter offers us a larger piece of the pie giving each performer 25 minutes to tell their story. Long Story Long allows you, the audience, to get to know the storyteller a little better. We’ll also have a featured storyteller in the middle, to be the extra crust around the pie. Who doesn’t like extra pie? Next show: October 17th featuring Peter Aguero, Elna Baker and a featured short from: Andy Christie

Talk Therapy. Full disclosure: I’ve performed in this show and I enjoy hanging out with the curator and host, Lori Baird. This monthly show has had four installments so far, although now that Happy Ending Lounge is no more it’s in search of a new couch. Talk Therapy, the reincarnation of The Talking Cure, retains that series’ theme: all things mental health (or illness, depending on your point of view). The show usually features 3-4 stories from a cross-section of performers, including writers/storytellers, comedy/theatre pros and luminaries such as Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Ellis Nutt. There are a few open mic spots, too — and cookies for all performers.

No Name @ Word Up. Storytelling comes to Washington Heights! This weekly show on Tuesday evenings takes place at the Word Up Bookstore, which is a volunteer-run bookstore and arts space on Amsterdam and 165th. Co-hosted and co-curated by Michelle Carlo and Eric Vetter, this is a combination workshop show for comedians and storytellers, with some open mic spots.

Late summer and early fall finds a couple of shows being revived too. The Liar Show, curated and hosted by Andy Christie, is back on Cornelia Street on the first Saturday of every month. And Charity Thomas’ Tell Me A Story — which feels more like an intimate “story party” than an open mic — is also back on the third Monday of every month in Prospect Heights.

Stopped or On ‘Pause’

Penny’s Open Mic, which was hosted by Penny Pollack from 9pm-2am Under St. Marks every Tuesday night for SIX YEARS, is no more. It has been “replaced” (insofar as something irreplaceable can be replaced) by Open Mic Downstairs. Same place, same day(s), same time. The first installment’s theme was, appropriately, “Birthing.”

OH, HEY GUYS! had its last show this month, which was also its hundredth show, after two years at UCB East. Its loveable, funny and welcoming host, John Flynn, shut it down because he is moving to Los Angeles. I know! The nerve! There’s a little hole in NYC’s storytelling heart on Thursday evenings now. The show, and its host, will be missed.

Another Round, the monthly open mic by, for and about drinkers, hosted by Amber Drea, has gone on the wagon indefinitely. I never got to one of these, unfortunately. I love booze. I would have loved the generously sized 10-minute mic slots too. I hope it comes back.

Want more? Check the calendar.

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