Back in 2007, a group of friends – and University of Houston theatre graduates – decided to do something creative and went to work on forming their own theatre company called BooTown. Co-artistic director Emily Hynds said the group knew they wanted to work in theatre, but didn’t have a strong desire to work for a company that already existed – enter BooTown. To their core, BooTown creates original performance events that combine the traditions of theatre and performance art with modern interdisciplinary methods, per their mission statement.
One of those performance events is something called Grown-up Storytime that takes place every third Tuesday of the month, with two showings – one at 8 and 10 p.m. – all happening at Rudyard’s British Pub upstairs. In fact, the event has taken place at Rudz since its birth in 2007, but that’s no surprise as Rudz has been a champion for the Arts for some time now.
Getting started, Hynds said they knew they wanted to do a storytelling segment, but put their own spin on it.
“Back then, storytelling was becoming this new phenomenon and it was just getting popular – The Moth existed, and a couple other storytelling events that were focused to tell your own story,” Hynds said. “With all our theatre backgrounds, we wanted to put a different spin on it and have the focus be on people submitting stories, and us assigning them to someone else to read – it crowd sources both your writers and your readers, and also gives an opportunity to writers who may not be comfortable telling their own story, but have really amazing stories that need to be out there.”
Grown-up Storytime has two elements: writing and reading. The novice writer, or even experienced writer, can attend a free BooTown Storytime workshop to work on a story and also get feedback. The same is also true for those who are interested in performing, reading, but the workshop works more on nuts and bolts, like how to properly talk into a microphone, learning to be comfortable on a stage, what notes to hit and not hit. Each workshop provides free feedback and polishes your skills to ready you for a possible debut.
“For writers, I think there’s a high rate of those who go to the workshop and then their stories get accepted in because we have the ability to workshop it with you over a long period,” Hynds said. “My favorite thing to tell writers is that you get paid. Even if you attend a workshop, the workshop is free and if your story gets accepted you get paid $40 on the spot for your story, and I think that’s great.”
For readers, this workshop is something new to Storytime. Previously, if you had been to a Storytime and showed an interest in reading, Hynds said they would allow readers to give it a shot, and would assign an easy story to test them on. If you did well, you’d get a call back. If not, well, you probably wouldn’t get that phone call. Now, Storytime incorporates a workshop to give feedback and coach readers through the process, regardless of your performance background or lack of background.
When it comes to which stories are selected for Grown-up Storytime, Hynds said it’s about quality and content.
“We don’t just want to have poop and fart joke stories, we want to make sure other genres are represented,” she said. “Storytelling is such a phenomenon right now because it’s all relatable. We can all relate to someone’s mental health story, to someone’s dating story, a poop story. These are all things we have all experienced. So we want to make sure that we represent the spectrum – it’s not all laughs.”
This month’s show happened on July 18, with a great range of stories and readers.
The first story of the night was titled “All Eyes on My”, written by Mona Malone and read by Annie Nguyen. The story shared a college girl’s perspective of “dating” and the struggles of not committing to that nice guy in class.
The second story was titled “Porcelain Thrown”, written by Van Wilde and read by Sam Mayer – who was my favorite reader for the night.
The third story was titled “Electrified”, written by Nancy Nalence and read by Angela Miner. This story shared an inside look of dealing with mental health and depression – this was my favorite written story for the night.
The fourth story was titled “Dating Profile”, written by Robert Houghton and read by Jason Wysong.
The fifth story was “Superboned”, written by John Wayne Comunale and read by Gabe Bravo.
The last story was “I was a Middle School Bully”, written by Jarred Pruitt and read by Amy Grisbee. The story shared a reflection of early middle school days when fitting in was hard, friends were limited, and being a bully was what you had to do to not be sorriest loser in school.
This was my second Storytime to attend, and after each one I’ve asked myself what story I would write to share.
Grown-up Storytime sparks creative thought and those are the best kind of events. The admission price of $5 is also a nice selling point.