Sit down, we have a story to tell
I literally ran into Ramya Mahalingam and Nora Orton, two of the founders of Charlotte Storytellers, one random Thursday night outside of the Evening Muse. I had just left a live taping of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins and I was in the streets promoting an upcoming AAF Charlotte program, when I bumped into Nora and Ramya.
We struck up a conversation and they started telling me about Charlotte Storytellers. I had been wanting to do something like this in Charlotte for years, but never had the time or the chutzpah. And here were these two girls, Brown University grads no less, who were actually doing it.
Ramya invited me to their Monday Meetings at Hackerspace Charlotte and I was so inspired that I went home that very night and started working on my first story.
Charlotte Storytellers is the brain child of a foursome of founders including Ramya, Nora, Chris Sirico and Heather Bartlett. A seemingly random group of four people coalescing around one great idea.
Nora and Ramya participated in a similar group at Brown, and they saw a perfect opportunity to get something powerful started here in Charlotte. “We wanted to do something that was not just reacting to the existing culture, but would actually inspire culture in this city” said Nora.
Charlotte Storytellers officially began in February 2015, with weekly Monday Meetings. Each meeting has a theme and each member brings stories on that theme and tells them to the group. (There is a Facebook event for every meeting where you can find the theme for the next meeting.) Then, after a few months, they realized the meetings weren’t enough. It was Story Time for Charlotte.
“We decided that the best way to show people what Charlotte Storytellers is about was to put on a show.” said Ramya.
Charlotte Storytellers’ first show is this Saturday, April 18th at Seeds on 36th. The show starts at 7 pm and will focus on creating a magical and childlike environment. There will be milk and cookies, bring your own pillow, and the dress code is PJ casual, setting the stage for attendees to enjoy an enchanted evening of stories. (Due to the adult language and mature content of the stories, this is not a child friendly event, so please leave the kiddos at home.) Go to the Charlotte Storytellers Facebook page for all of the information and sign up to attend via Eventbrite. Not only is this event free, but if you happen to be in a giving mood, you’ll have a chance to make the world a better place by making a donation to support The Arts Empowerment Project.
If you can’t make the show, don’t worry, you can still check out Charlotte Storytellers’ weekly meetings. So far I have been to two and they are uplifting! There is a sense of fellowship that is refreshing. Everyone is about the stories. The tales are witty and observant, funny and sad. Each meeting opens with warm-up exercises that get the creative juices flowing and break the ice for any newbies. Then everyone presents their stories, and the group analyzes the story, breaking it down and giving feedback on everything from the delivery and wordplay to the structure and rhythm of the story. It is inspiring and constructive. And it’s exactly the type of welcoming yet intense setting a creative person needs to thrive.
“Just show up and be yourself” says Nora. And you should, because we all have a story to tell.
Stories connect us. They allow us to see ourselves in the foibles and fumbles, laughter and lives of others. Stories broaden our horizons, raise our awareness and deepen our capacity for empathy. In short, stories make us human, and Charlotte Storytellers is making Charlotte a better city.
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