I texted, “Sure. Can you drive? I can be at your house by 6ish” and got a “K” response. My librarian at my school was asking if I wanted to go hear our 5th grade teacher’s “graduation night” of his storytelling class. This same 5th grade teacher had planned to do this SOL writing challenge with us but then he started this storytelling class and found there is only so much he could do. Now having this plan, I was motivated all day Sunday to get my homework done and head into D.C. to hear a few stories.
We crossed the 14th Street bridge into D.C. and headed to a part of town new to me. We turned right onto Rhode Island Avenue and parallel parked on the street lined with 3-story old Victorian row houses. I thought to myself how D.C. has so many different pockets and here’s a new one for me to experience. We started walking, looking for 70, the address of our destination. It turned out to be the basement space of one of the row houses. We walked in to find the words The Unified Scene Theater painted across the far long wall with folding chairs facing this sign on three sides. We took a seat to the right of the open space and our colleague came over to thank us for coming. He seemed relaxed. “I’m going first,” he explained. “There’re seven of us sharing.”
And share they did. First our friend, a male 5th grade teacher. He told the story of a fight, his brothers against the grit. It was about a fight on the playing field but also about so much more. Then two more guys and four women. Each story was so different. All about 10 minutes long. All so honest, filled with precise details that I felt like I was also on the playing field during the fight and in the car driving to the Outer Banks and in the plane trying to pass the fighter jet test and watching the elderly man close his wife’s eyes for the last time and drinking vodka around the campfire and standing at the rim of the volcano in Hawaii and eating fresh baked cookies at 3am in the morning. All bravely stood in front of the painted wall and shared aloud the story they wrote, a story only they could write and tell.
I’m not sure if I will ever signup for a storytelling class. Right now, I am happy writing my stories on the page (screen). A little bravery is needed to post and share on my blog. A whole lot more is needed to commit the story to my memory and stand up and deliver it to an audience. But boy, did I enjoy being a listener.
The Unified Scene Theater of DC
Moth Radio Hour
Jim Weiss storytelling CDs – he has visited schools I’ve taught in and does an amazing job telling traditional stories. Look for his CDs at the library!! My favorite is his telling of Aesop’s Fable, the Tortoise and the Hare!!