What is Here:Say? Here:Say is a monthly event where invited performers tell a personal story that centers on a given theme.

Why tell stories? Anecdotes tell us what happened. Stories are the truth we make of what happened. Beyond entertaining, storytelling is what connects us with others. It helps us find our most compelling similarities and our most interesting differences.

As George Saunders said in an essay: “The best stories make us more humble, cause us to empathize with people we don’t know, because they help us imagine these people, and when we imagine them—if the storytelling is good enough—we imagine them as being, essentially, like us.

What’s the best way to tell a story then? There’s no one right way to tell a story. As in life, every experience has multiple truths, so there’s even multiple ways to tell the same story. The best stories aren’t necessarily a start-to-finish retelling of every detail that happened. Instead, they zero in on the most important part of what happened and give it life.

How long are the stories told? Each performance should be 5 to 8 minutes in length. Performers are strongly encouraged to time themselves reading their stories aloud well before the event.

Are these stories for kids? Here:Say performers are adults telling personal stories, so we can’t promise the stories will be free of adult situations and adult language.

Can I just show up and tell any story? Can I do stand-up or slam poetry or read fiction? Here:Say is not an open-mic event. Performers have committed in advance to telling a story on a scheduled night.

Although stand-up and slam poetry and fiction are wonderful forms of expression, this particular event celebrates the art of narrative storytelling.

Do I have to memorize my story? Performers will be prepared to tell a story–that is, they won’t be winging it. But you don’t have to memorize the story. There will be a music stand available to hold your story/notes so that you have them available but don’t have to hold them in your hand. (Performers are encouraged to not hold the paper.)

How can I get invited to perform? Although Here:Say schedules some regular performers, we are always looking for more voices to tell their story to the audience.

If you’d like to perform, remember that the point of the story being told is not just what happened but your truth of what happened and what it means. Come check out one of our events to get a sense of how these events work.

If you’re interested in performing, send a pitch to heresaytc@gmail.com.

What if I want to tell a story but I’m not sure if I’m ready? Here:Say offers workshopping to help potential performers find their story. Send us an email to find out more.

Any tips for a successful story? You should know why you want to tell the story you have chosen to tell. This will help you figure out what you want the audience to learn about you, and the world, from hearing your story and thus how to tell your story. Leave out of your story any mention of “the moral of the story” or “…and what I learned from this experience was…” or “… I guess the takeaway is…” —this should come through in how you tell the story.

Kurt Vonnegut once detailed the following tips for writer. They can also very useful as tips for live storytelling.

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the [audience] at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your [audience] as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.