IF you have a compelling story to share -- or you're just really gifted when it comes to spinning a yarn -- Hear/Say wants to hear from you.
On Jan. 16 at the Park Theatre, the local storytelling collective will launch a monthly forum, the Hear/Say Story Exchange, for anyone and everyone who wants to take the stage and share a story in front of a audience. The first half of the evening will be curated from submitted material that's been adjudicated by a panel of judges; the second half of the evening is open to members of the audience. Attendees can throw their name into the ring when they arrive at the venue and up to six presenters will be drawn at random.
Each event will have a theme; this month's is "new beginnings."
The stories that are shared at the live events will be recorded for the Hear/Say radio show/podcast, which will begin airing weekly on UMFM 101.5 in the spring.
(And if you have a story to share but the idea of getting up onstage makes you dry heave, that's OK; the Hear/Say team will take submissions for in-studio sessions at UMFM. They're even willing to bring their recording rig to you.)
"The idea came from my love of storytelling, podcasts and radio shows," says event organizer Kevin Mozdzen, who was inspired by radio programs such as CBC's Definitely Not the Opera and This American Life. He also had the means to make it happen; Mozdzen, who is joined on the Hear/Say team by Tessa Vanderhart, Jared McKetiak and Michael Elves, works at the Park Theatre as a booker and thought a live storytelling event would be a nice addition to the venue's music and film offerings.
Thursday night's event will be hosted by DNTO producer Kaj Hasselriis, who was impressed with organizers after stumbling upon Hear/Say on Twitter. "I felt it had good credibility and it had a good idea behind it," he says.
"(Live storytelling events) have become a thing in the last few years," he adds, pointing to The Moth, a high-profile storytelling organization and podcast founded by best-selling author George Dawes Green, by way of example. "People get up in bars and there's always a theme then they air it on the radio.
"I was at another storytelling event in Toronto called Raconteurs and there's one in Vancouver. It's becoming a bit of a trend, and Winnipeg is on the bandwagon."
Blame it on his line of work, but Hasselriis loves a good variety show.
"You never know what you're going to get. I love the predictability of it," he says. "We always say at DNTO that everyone has a story. This theme of new beginnings is broad enough but also hopefully personal enough that they'll open up about their lives. There's a certain vulnerability to sharing a story in front of people that can be cringe-worthy, but also very entertaining."
Hear/Say is taking submissions for its next live event, which takes place Feb. 13. The theme is "love and lack thereof." Visit www.hearsaystoryexchange.com/ for complete information.