Thank you to all the performers for making this such a truly wonderful, deeply emotional night! Your stories are pieces of yourselves quite generously given, pieces we will be honored to carry with us, always.
Just a few weeks ago, our story slam coordinator and emcee Norah Dooley, stopped by for a class visit. Sporting a warm and welcoming smile, Dooley took hold of her clicker, and wasted no time diving into her spiel on how we all have a story to tell, enthusiastically stating “we’re hardwired for that!” Dooley all the while conjured up some sort of joke that members of the class couldn’t help but chuckle at. Closer to the end of her presentation, Dooley evoked some class participation, beckoning us all to close our eyes, and to picture somewhere we think of when we hear the phrase “where I am from,” just to properly acquaint us with this year’s story slam theme. Meandering through all five senses, Dooley, in a cool, calm voice inquired: “What do you see to right? If you reach out and touch it, what does it feel like? Is it rough? Cold? Hot?” After being instructed to open our eyes, we were then challenged to tell our story to the person sitting closest to us in one minute. Of course a majority of us however, were unwilling to quit, even when Dooley called time, which was proof that Dooley’s pitch on storytelling was nothing far from the truth. Left fascinated by all that Dooley’s class visit had to offer, we caught up with Dooley, curious to know more about what stories she has to tell.
Now a storytelling course professor at Lesley University, as well as a professor at Tufts University’s Experimental College, Dooley says that twenty-five years ago, she never would have thought that she’d be a storyteller. “I was getting a degree in Creative Arts and learning, and I wanted to take a theater course as an elective my senior year, but they didn’t offer any.” Dooley’s mentors then nudged her in the direction of a storytelling course, and well, the rest is history. “I love it! It’s something very one of a kind, I’m always excited to hear other people’s stories, and it’s always fascinating to me what people bring.” Dooley is also a visiting author, and frequents homeless shelters, centers that host retirees, and youth developmental institutions.
When asked what advice she has for others who may want to get into storytelling, she replied: “Tell your story to just one other person, go to open mics, and remember to be engaged and present in the moment, and think only about the experience you’re talking about!”
Come out to Suffolk University’s story slam, and see what Dooley, some of Suffolk’s student storytellers, and what some GrubStreet storytellers have to offer, on Friday at 7 pm at the Modern Theater.
On Friday, April 22nd Suffolk University will partner with GrubStreet to hold a Story Slam. The Slam will begin at 7 pm in the Modern Theater on Washington St. and will feature 5 storytellers from the GrubStreet writers and 5 students from Suffolk as storytellers.
I sat down with one of the Suffolk storytellers to talk about the upcoming slam.
Janaye Kerr is a Freshman from Suffolk University from Jamaica.
She told me that she “has always been interested in people that go up and do spoken word and has always wanted to try but she has been too quiet and shy to try.” Since this event is being put on by our class Janaye thought that it would be the perfect opportunity “to get acquainted with the mic.”
Even though she is looking forward to it, Janaye is extremely nervous to get up on stage on April 22nd. “But at the end of the day I know it is going to be a really welcoming environment and I am excited to do it,” Janaye said after exclaiming how scared she was. We have learned that the literary world is very supportive of one another, so I know that Janaye will be received with incredible support when she goes up on stage.
I asked Janaye if she knew what story she was going to tell or where she would take it. Since the theme of the slam is “Where Am I From” Janaye will be starting in Jamaica, her birthplace, however, “it’s not exactly [going to be] about the place.” It’ll be about her family and how all of that was the beginning of who she is now.
Janaye told me that Nora Dooley is the one who really made it possible for her to do this. Ms. Dooley is an author, storyteller, and Cofounder of Massmouth, a company that puts on story slams. Talking to Nora and hearing about her experience storytelling, Janaye knew that she wanted to participate in this slam.
Since the slam will be a competition between Suffolk and GrubStreet I asked Janaye how she thought our students were going to do against the “professionals.” Since Suffolk has such a diverse student body with many talents, our students should hold their own. I believe that the Suffolk stories will be rawer than the pros, making them more emotional and definitely easier to connect with for our classmates.
Janaye is ready and exciting to be performing at her first ever story slam on April 22nd. Come to the Modern Theater at 7 pm to hear her story. Personally, I am so excited to hear Janaye speak and to learn about where she is from and how she got to where she is today!