SEQUIM — People can get stuck in predicaments — and they can extricate themselves with verve and grace. And this Thursday night in the next OutLoud Story Slam, a few such men and women will reveal just how they unstuck themselves.
The event, to be broadcast on Facebook Live and via Zoom at 7 p.m., will feature seven curated storytellers plus short “slips,” brief personal sagas in line with the theme. Viewers — and storytellers who want to dive in — can connect by finding OutLoud Story Slam on Facebook or by emailing [email protected] well before the start time. Admission is free while donations are welcome.
“ ‘Stuck’ was our theme in March, and we had to cancel that event,” said Nessa Goldman, co-organizer of the OutLoud slam series.
She and Jeanné Sparks, another lover of storytelling, are delighted to bring back the whole idea and present it in a new way.
In July, Goldman and Sparks held their first live-streamed slam; its theme was pride — pride in one’s humanity and identity. Among the tellers was Max Bidasha of Sequim, who offered his story as a gay man rejected by some of his family members. A few despised all gay people, saying they didn’t deserve to live in dignity.
“We know who we are,” Bidasha declared at the end of his performance; “we are whole, beautiful and proud.”
As for people not familiar with story slams, he encourages them to try this one. No matter how fractured we are, Bidasha said, these vulnerable, personal stories can help us understand one another.
“I enjoy story slam,” he added, “because it reminds me there is goodness. It inspires me to see other people who have gone through rough times make something beautiful out of it.”
With so many isolated now, he said, Thursday’s event “is a perfect opportunity for people to feel included.”
Story slams are adrenaline-charged events showcasing the tellers’ own true stories. In the case of OutLoud, the performances are limited to six minutes in length, and tellers are urged to skip any notes or props.
“We just want to hear what everyone has to say,” added Goldman, who’s a fan of radio shows and podcasts such as “The Moth” and “Risk!” Listening to story slams helped her endure the first months of the pandemic, she said.
Goldman, a middle school math and science teacher with Sequim’s Olympic Peninsula Academy, and Sparks, who owns All Weather Heating and Cooling, met and became fast friends through storytelling. The OutLoud series began with live events at venues such as Port Angeles’ Studio Bob and Sequim’s Olympic Theatre Arts after Ingrid Nixon and the Story People of Clallam County won a grant to start it in 2017.
Sparks and Goldman took the reins last year.
“If you’re watching with family members at home,” Goldman said of Thursday’s slam, there could be a bonus: “You end up having these great conversations afterward” about the theme, the tellers’ tales — and your own stories.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.