Organizer and performer Bonnie Obremski is among the storytellers in the Feb. 15 “Heart Stories” gathering in downtown Port Townsend. (David Conklin)

Organizer and performer Bonnie Obremski is among the storytellers in the Feb. 15 “Heart Stories” gathering in downtown Port Townsend. (David Conklin)

‘Heart Stories’ free, but not easy to get into

Reservations expanded for Storyborne event at multiple Port Townsend venues

PORT TOWNSEND — “Heart Stories,” the free Saturday event in four downtown venues, distributed all of its main-stage tickets within hours after they became available, so organizers scrambled for a way to let more people in.

There’s no charge to attend “Heart Stories” thanks to a Port Townsend Arts Commission grant, said producer Bonnie Obremski. She’s founder of Storyborne, the organization presenting this second annual “Heart Stories.”

On Feb. 3, Obremski and crew set up an online reservation system to disseminate tickets, since the main venue, the Cotton Building at 607 Water St., seats only about 100.

Their plans were to start the live storytelling event at the Cotton Building, then send audience members to a trio of other venues in walking distance and finally bring them back to Cotton for a closing set of stories. All of this is set to happen from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday.

After the main-stage tickets were gone, dozens more people signed up for the waiting list. So on Feb. 4, Obremski opted to open up reservations for the other “Heart Stories” venues: the Jefferson County Museum of Art & History, the Northwind Arts Center and the Pope Marine Building. At these places — as well as at the Cotton Building — local storytellers will appear in the “Sea of Stories,” a free hour of live telling to begin at 5 p.m.

The main event is sold out at the Cotton Building but Sea of Stories still had seats available there as of Wednesday.

Tickets and information await at www.storyborne.com.

Another Sea of Stories venue — the Jefferson County Museum at 540 Water St. — has sold out. There ticket holders will see Judy Duncan with “Rush: Grow up, Get Old, Start Over,” Leslie Tapper with “An Octopus’ Garden by the Sea: A story of adaptation, survival and finding true colors” and teenager Zinnia Hansen with “The Story of a Smile.”

Still available are seats at the Pope Marine, 603 Water St., where Weber and Hansen will reappear along with Port Townsend’s A.J. Hawkins, whose tale is “The Hurt & The Sickness: Self-portraits in paint & prose from my year of severe iatrogenic illness.”

They also are available at Northwind, 701 Water St., where Weber and Duncan will step up along with Cheri Kopp, whose story is “Thanks Mom: a story of love, loss and longing.”

Kopp, a former systems development consultant and instructor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, is now an artist in Port Townsend; her mother’s death propelled her to make a radical change in her life’s direction.

Kopp is also one of the writers with a story published in the Storyborne magazine to be distributed during “Heart Stories.”

Over at the Cotton Building main stage, Ward Serrill, Jenny Lee and Cara Faith of Port Townsend, Jefferson Greene of the Warm Springs Reservation, Microsoft “mindfulness pioneer” Charles Morris and Obremski herself will offer their stories, and Port Townsend’s Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble will engage the audience in its “playback theater.”

Only those who reserved seats in the first wave of online registration — plus some from the waiting list if there are cancellations — will be admitted to the Cotton Building for these performances.

Sea of Stories presented at the Cotton Building will be Ward Serrill, with “Cracking the World Open: How a Dog Saved an Accountant’s Life in Wild Alaska;” Jenny Lee with “The Calling of the Sea: A Story in Song;” and Cara Faith with “How I Won a Lip-Synching Battle at 7 Cedars Casino; Do you ever wonder if it’s possible for a nighttime dream to become your daytime reality.”

Magdalene Adenau, “Heart Stories’” event planner, thanked attendees for “warmly embracing” the evening, which she said promises a variety of raw, personal and inspirational stories.

“I want to grow this event, year after year,” added Obremski. She founded www.storyborne.com in fall 2018 and held the inaugural “Heart Stories” in February 2019.

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Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.

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