This past Saturday evening, I arrived in Portland, OR, shortly after 8PM. Having just spent 11 hours driving up from San Francisco, my rideshare deposited me at the Hipbone Studio, bags and all, so I could attend the Urban Tellers showcase put on by Portland Story Theater. Despite the fact that I had been traveling since 8:30AM and was pretty tired, I was whisked into the darkness of the theater and spent the next two hours listening intently to the true stories unfolding before me.
Portland Story Theater is like a local version of The Moth (whose podcast you should subscribe to if you don’t already). Their focus is on true stories, both personal narrative as well as historical events. Urban Tellers is a workshop series in which “ordinary people” learn to tell their own personal narratives, and the showcase is where they get to present the results of their work. The founders of PST, Lynne Duddy and Lawrence Howard, share my belief that through sharing our stories and connecting on that raw, human, level, we can break down barriers and build a better community. They strive to do this in every work they present.
Lynne and Lawrence have also been my generous hosts in Portland, having spontaneously offered me a place to stay after I emailed them about PST last week. The last few days have been full of wonderful conversation, lots of reflection, and excitement about my next steps. I’m learning a lot about direct, simple storytelling, and have begun to think about my own stories. Last night I got to sit in on the final post-performance reflection for the group of Urban Tellers that just performed, and tonight I will be sitting in on the weekly workshop of the group that will be performing in a few weeks. I’ve connected with some wonderful people, and am looking forward to the rest of my week in Portland!