Tuesday, February 12, 2013

There’s something I love about a well told story: it unfolds in a way that you can’t predict. It could be entertaining and inspired. It could be deeply shattering. It can make you think “I’m not the only one that’s happened to”. It can stop you in your tracks as you wonder what you would do in the same situation. The unexpected is a reason why the monthly Raconteurs storytelling night is a mainstay in my events calendar.

Raconteurs is held on the second Wednesday of every month at No One Writes To The Colonel, a cozy bar on College St. Ten storytellers are selected in advance, based on story pitches, and make up the night’s entertainment. The rules are simple: the stories must be true and have happened to the storyteller, must be told without the use of notes or cards, and usually in the 5-10 minute range. You get a variety of people participating, from writers and professional storytellers, to first-timers who just have an interesting story to tell. The stories can be funny, but don’t confuse it with an open-mic  night at the Chuckle Hut – this isn’t the place to practice your stand-up act. No one wants to sit and hear your disjointed rant or pitch for your business. You’re relating a narrative.

Each event is based around a theme, which is announced in advance, and prospective storytellers submit their pitches to the event organizers. The themes are open-ended enough to create a variety of angles and approaches: “Games” led to stories about survival games, Monopoly, and the dynamics of family game night. “Born Again” had a range of stories from being literally a Born Again Christian who falls out of faith, being born again poor, surviving a bear attack,  and surviving ourselves.

I find the audience reaction to be an interesting phenomenon: we’re an audience reacting to sometimes funny anecdotes, sometimes heart breaking confessions. There are sometimes blips of nervous laughter at awkward moments. My favourite times when there’s a moment in the story, and we all nod in silent recognition of familiarity, of sympathy or shared pain. It could be subtitled "A Night of Truths, Both Awkward and Familiar".

The stories are all recorded, with a number of them available on the Raconteurs YouTube channel. If you’re considering telling a story, take a look here to see some examples of what works. Some recent highlights include:

Based on the theme “MONEY” - Jeremy Greenberg - "The 64-bit Friendship"

Based on the theme “MONEY” - Chris Graham - "Carbon Footprint"

Based on the theme "FIRE & ICE" - Alex Nursall - "The Sober Brit"

There are still tickets for this Wednesday's show, on February 13th. This month’s theme “Fish Out Of Water” should produce some interesting results: "ten true tales about being out of your element. Our theme this month is FISH OUT OF WATER and we’re bringing you stories of being out of place, out of sync, and out of touch."

Doors open at 6:30, show starts at 7:30.
$7 in advance
$10 at the door

Tickets on sale here.

I recommend subscribing to the Raconteurs page on Facebook to keep up to date on themes and event details. There’s also the main Raconteurs webpage with submission and event information.

Raconteurs - a live storytelling event
Every 2nd Wednesday of the month @ No One Writes to the Colonel (460 College St.)