Walking into the Lawrence Arts Center on Friday night, I did not have high hopes. I didn’t even expect to write this review. I had originally signed up just to take photos at this event. However, after a string of unexpected events (all of which were my fault), I couldn’t acquire a camera in time, so I was unable to do this simple job. As I entered the building, I seriously considered leaving on the spot and going home. However, I decided to stay, and I’m glad I did because I ended up having a fantastic time.
As soon as I entered the black box theater it became clear that almost everyone in the room was significantly older than me. That is, everyone except for a table of four which, as I discovered later, consisted of current and former KJHK Station Managers Ray Bennett and Mason Kilpatrick respectively. I sat alone in the back corner waiting for the show to start.
Finally, a well-groomed man stood up and introduced himself. Soon, from the way he spoke and from how the audience reacted, it became abundantly clear that most of these people knew each other, and had been doing this for a while. This only made me feel more out of place. Then he called up the first story teller, and Indian woman whose story was of a stranger who gave her a motorcycle ride to a standardized test center when she was young. When she took the stage, she announced that this is her first time telling a story. So it came to a great surprise to me that the story was really, really good.
From the moment she started, she sucked me into her world. In an instant, I went from wishing I was somewhere else, to being fully engrossed in the story she was telling. Her story was exciting, funny, and had a superb ending. Not to mention that she told it very well. There were no awkward stutters or “uhh’s.” She told the story with skill and professionalism.
As the story tellers kept coming, I found this to be true of everyone. Every person who went up had a unique, charming personal story to tell, and they told them with the skill and wit of a professional public speaker. I soon found myself having the time of my life. I had never attended an event like this before, and it was very refreshing to sit back and just listen to all the crazy, funny, and sad stories that people shared. It was like getting a collection of short stories, except you’re hearing the stories instead of reading them, and you are surrounded by a lively crowd that feeds energy into the story teller. It was a perfect respite from the stresses of college.
At the end of the night, we voted on who had the best story, which was a very difficult choice, as there were so many good ones. As I left, I grabbed a flyer on my way out. The next Story Slam (theme: Adventure) will be on November 10th, at the Lawrence Arts Center, starting at 7:00. I most certainly plan on going, and I highly encourage you to go as well. If you see a skinny 18-year old sitting in the back corner, feel free to come up and say hi. Hope to see you there.