For the past 25 years, Camrbidge's Story Space has created a platform for storytellers of all kinds to share their work to a receptive and respectful audience.
“Brother Blue and his wife Ruth started this back in 1992,” says Story Space organizer Mike Cohen. “They created a place where people could come off the street and tell their stories, and there was no place like that before.”
Story Space was originally hosted at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery on Prospect Street, before moving to the new Out of The Blue Too near Central Square, where they meet every Tuesday. Cohen explains that each evening is a combination of open storytelling followed by a featured speaker, who could be anyone from a radio personality to an established singer-songwriter.
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“If people have an interesting story, we schedule them,” says Cohen. “Sometimes we even have a series of stories.”
While a particular storyteller may bring you in the door, the open session gives voice to anyone who wishes to share. Names are put into a bin at the beginning of the night and those who are selected are given eight uninterrupted minutes to convey their story. Fictional or real, fantasy or folk, everyone and every type of tale is encouraged at Story Space.
“We also have special times for first-time tellers,” says Cohen. “They get up there and realize how powerful telling their story can be.”
And in a world where everything is becoming faster, digitized and ephemeral, Cohen believes there are two tenets to storytelling that will allow the craft to survive forever. First, he believes that storytelling is integral to all forms of human art.
“Song, dance, book or play, there’s a story in there,” Cohen says. “And storytelling is communicating that story to others.”
Second, and probably most crucial to the poignancy of storytelling, is that stories are interactive and craved by humankind. He explains that interaction between the teller and the audience is critical for this type of artwork. Also, the fact that a story changes every time it is told keeps people coming back and has encouraged the revival of poetry slams and similar events.
“We all know that little kids love stories,” says Cohen. “But adults, I’ve found, are deprived. They’re skeptical at first, but we sit them down and tell them a good story. Their reactions are always the best.”
If you go:
Tuesdays, 6:45 p.m., Out of the Blue Too Gallery, 541 Massachusetts Ave., $5 suggested donation, storyspace.org