Telling stories in a Twisted way

“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”~Demosthenes, Greek statesman

Tonight, I attended my first Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers event. The name alone sounds intriguing enough to explore.

What is it? It’s people telling stories.

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Welcome, and be social with the Twisted Storytellers

Inside Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the founder and host of Twisted Storytellers, Satori Shakoor, told us we would laugh, maybe cry, but whatever our reactions, we’d take something away from this event. I took something away from that 2-hour event:

Intense.

Pause for a moment. Let that sink in.

Intense.

I’ve attended spoken word events, but those are poetic performances. The artists are the center of attention. These readings often feel fake, in a William Shatner-esque overdrama way.  Twisted Storytellers was the complete opposite of that: the stories are the focus. And they are real.

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I needed this stiff drink after the first 3 power-full performances

This was honest. No playacting here. Each storyteller stands on a small circular stage under a single, bright spotlight, filmed for the Twisted YouTube channel. Tonight’s theme was Family Clan, so the storytellers talked about their personal family history. A blind woman talked of her childhood sexual abuse and the probability that any child she had would be born blind. A man described in serious humor his Korean War experience and the military’s attention to detail regarding venereal disease. A Mexican tap dance troupe telling a story of love through music. A man shared his experience growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness.

You would think that all stories need to be deep and dramatic, but I expect that some nights are lighter than others. For sure, the man describing the VD preventative measures was a rousing comedian in his own right.

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I was this close: the view from front row

The final storyteller was Mary Eatmon, author of 9 Houses, the woman I came to support.  Her story described rape, child-rearing and how that affected choices she made as an adult. I imagine she was nervous. I know I would be; the setting is intimidating as much as it is intimate. Sharing your story is brave. It’s one thing to tell your friends around while sitting on your living room couch; it’s a different level talking to strangers. Solitary as she was on stage, would she fully appreciate the audience’s reactions?

I heard the inward gasps of sympathy as she described her husband. The soft moans as she described her children’s upbringing. The sighs of pity and the laughter at her changing attitude as an adult. I told her all these reactions afterwards. I was right: she had not heard all the audience’s reactions and wondered if she was entertaining enough. She was that, and more.

She was intense. The whole night was.

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Relax for fan photos: me & Mary

I will be back.

Maybe someday I’ll tell my story on that stage.

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