Who attended this session? Miriam Sherwood Rich Mason Stuart Window Michaela Sisti Joni-Rae Carrael Ashley Steed Stuart and I are interested in bringing a Providence, RI event to London called Live Bait: True Stories from Real People. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Live-Bait-True-Stories-from-Real-People/130065654016

It's a monthly storytelling night that happens at an art club at AS220 in Providence, drawing up to 100 audience members a night to hear stories based on broad themes. We have been doing a little research on what's out there in London right now but we came to the event hoping to learn a little bit more and possibly drum up some support from a community of storytellers.

Before the session even got started we had someone come over to us and mention that Spark London was really already doing what we were describing and, with a little follow up research, they were right! http://www.sparklondon.com/history.html

So, we won't be Britain's “First Storytelling Club” but we think that this is a big city and room for two, as long as we create an environment/series distinct from the other.

But getting back to the session called…we really were looking for feedback on ‘Live Bait’ as it exists in Providence and whether that would work here in London.

People were generally warm to the idea and, despite many real-people-telling-stories events out there in London, there wasn't anything quite like what we were proposing. The idea of the fishbowl was probably what set it apart. Everyone shows up. If you want to tell your story based on the theme of the evening, you put your name in the bowl. If you get chosen you have six minutes to tell your story.

People thought that sort of tension was exciting. It would be thrilling for people who are not traditionally performers to get up and tell their stories, even moreso when they're not even sure they'll get to tell it. One suggestion was to allow people to put in their name at any time, so that should the get up the nerve, they don't have to wait until the next event to put their name in the bowl.

We all agreed that it would be really important to set the right tone. From the MC to the venue, we would have to create a space where it would be okay for people to not only feel comfortable but it would also be okay to fail. Because, in some cases, people do. We want to keep audiences and performers feeling comfortable and supportive of each other.

What about having professional storytellers involved? Some people thought this was a good idea, bringing some level of professionalism to the night, but others thought that might defeat the purpose. We are undecided, but are now weighing against it because that's a platform that Spark has been using. We do think that it's always important to have people you sort of know won't fail miserably or someone you might have come up to bring an audience back into the true spirit of the evening. We think a strong MC who is a good raconteur would be invaluable. While having a roster of semi-professional performers, or just people we can trust to tell a good story to save a sinking ship would also be good, some people were concerned that it might sabotage the whole idea of chance. Eh. It could go either way, I think. These people would really be a sort of insurance policy. It's about mitigating risk and ensuring that everyone has a good time. That's what producers of these sorts of projects have to think about.

We talked spaces at length. People suggested sitting round in a circle and simply standing up to tell your story, that way you wouldn't feel ‘put on the spot.’ Others suggested that what you need is something visual to mark it and something like a small stage would do it. We debated on whether to have it in a bar/pub/cabaret setting because we felt it's really important to make sure that audiences are there to listen. Audiences paying attention would be really important to ensure the confidence of the storyteller. While ‘Live Bait’ draws up to 100 people, we thought that maybe make the evening smaller to start, around 30 people, just to get the idea going.

The one thing we all agreed on was this would not turn into a ‘new material’ night for solo performers, writers, or comedians. We really want this to stay true to the mission of real people, true stories. (or ostensibly true, as Stuart put it, because in most stories, the truth is stretched and distorted because memory is not perfect!)

Other companies, ideas in motion we need to research:

London Stories, BAC https://www.bac.org.uk/content/29454/about_us/past_shows/london_stories

Moving Stories, Hammersmith http://www.movingstories.org.uk/moving-stories/

Move Over Darling, Tom Marshman http://www.tommarshman.com/inspiringdialogues.html

Crick Crack Club http://www.crickcrackclub.com/MAIN/CLUBF.HTM

White Rabbit http://www.thewhiterabbit.org.uk/

Cringe Night http://www.queserasera.org/cringe.html

StoryLabs storylabs.us