March 19th 2014
Story originally written and experienced: January 9th 2014
You need more.
She told me.
“You just need…more.”
We were sitting at dinner. This well established publisher and I. Enjoying casual American cuisine on the Upper East Side in Manhattan on a planned Monday night—talking about life and eventually segueing into why were really there.
“I want to help you, Olive. I do. I’d love to publish your work. I just…I want to see you, your blog and your writing go places! That’s why I’m telling you this. That you need…more. A stronger following, a bigger presence.
That not only shows that you want it.
But that other people want it too.”
“What exactly does that mean? How do I do that?”
“You’ll figure it out.”
We sat there in silence for a few minutes. I pushed around my vegetables as she took a long sip of wine. I wasn’t sure what to say. I had the drive. The commitment. The want. A good following.
And just one single idea.
To make it more. And to make it better. But it seemed a little crazy. And it just seemed weird. And I just couldn’t decide if I should say it? Or should I wait? Or maybe I should –
“Well I kind of have an idea.”
“Tell me about it, Olive.”
“Well. I thought about this the other day. Well. More like the last month or so. Planning an event. Something involving people. Telling stories. A storytelling event, if you will.”
“A storytelling event?”
“Yeah. I could recruit some people around the city with good stories to tell and have it be kind of a performance. All real stories, you know. I’d perform too. But make it very natural. But interesting too? Make it feel like a bunch of friends in a living room shooting the shit. Like imagine any time you and your friends are hanging out and think of all the uncensored, amazing, off-the-wall nonsense that really bring a conversation to life. Something like that. That feeling but with new people. And a stage.”
“I think you should do it.”
“I really think you should. Sounds interesting. I’m not sure where you’re going to find the people or how you’re going to arrange it—but I’m interested to see how it turns out. I’ll be there. Count me in. Make it happen.”
One week later I left my apartment on a Sunday evening. Took a train to the lower east side and just began to walk. Asking random bar owners if they had a stage. Had a rate. Had an opening for someone like me.
Most people said no.
Some people said yes!…For a small fee of $1,000.
And then there was more place. Called the Cake Shop.
On the corner of
S t a n t o n
I walked in and patiently waited as the bartender served a chilled glass of Heineken—asking her afterwards where the owner was, where she immediately pointed to the man behind her. I introduced myself— told him why I was there. What I wanted. Why I was doing it. And when it would be.
And the owner looked at me kindly and contently and said, “March 1st. 6-8pm. The venue is all yours. Any dream pursuers are a friend of mine. I only ask that you let me watch.”
We shook hands.
And it was a deal.
Venue booked—the next 2 months were spent feverishly recruiting people from the bars. From my friend group. On the phone. In the streets. Convincing them of this unexpected off-the-wall event. That had no boundaries. No rubric. No rough draft. Free reign.
And people signed up!
And then people canceled.
And then more people signed up!
And then they canceled again.
And then even more people signed up!
And even more of them canceled.
They were scared.
They were unsure.
They were busy.
Maybe next time.
And there I was 2 weeks before the show with half made promises for my “make it bigger. make it better.” debut.
I did some research and I did it well. I asked underrated artists. Natural personalities. And a foreigner I met on a plane. And before I knew it, I had casted the best group of people that had ever accidentally fell into place. Prompting me to successfully create a final roster that looked like this:
And then the day finally arrived.
We didn’t have a single rehearsal. There simply wasn’t any time. My merchandise was ready.
The sign was posted.
And my anxiety was at an all time
I told my storytellers to meet me an hour before.
For a brief run of show.
And of course a complimentary round of Señor Jameson:
And eventually 5:13.
Turned into 5:22.
That moved to 5:43.
That hit 6 pm.
And by 6:18 pm.
The house was packed.
With supportive friends, curious people and of course the owner in the back.
The show finally began. And I was nervous. And I was scared.
But eventually I walked on the stage. Took the mic. And just began to talk. Began to say anything. Anything at all.
And the rest of the story goes like this:
To everyone who came to the show. Sent well wishes or even stopped by to read this post. Thank you. So much. The reason you read at all? Well. It’s the reason I write at all. Hope to see you at the next show—I’ll be sure to keep you posted! (as always)
If you’d like to see the full footage of the show or want to hear the full story of an individual storyteller, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to send them your way!
And finally, if you want to see behind the scenes photos of the event. I’ll be posting them here!
Stay awesome and keeping dreaming,