30 Minutes Down

Posted on October 18, 2012. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , |

Last night I performed a 30 minute story at my friend Ellouise Schoettler’s show “Tales in the Village.” The show is monthly and is hosted at the Friendship Heights Community Center.

The reason last night is remarkable is that I have never told a 30 minute story before.  I have told stories for 30 minutes, at another “Tales in the Village” event, but this was the first time I wrote, memorized, and told one story that was 30 minutes long. It was a lot of work!


I think, overall, the performance went well.  There was a bit of distraction in the first few minutes when one of the audience members started complaining that he couldn’t hear. It was a small room, so we had decided not to use the microphone, but as the gentleman persisted, repeatedly, in telling me to be louder, I did eventually grab the mic.

I won’t lie, I had a little heart attack during all that. I have performed over 25 times so at this point I have experienced cell phones, sneezes, people walking in, people leaving, servers dropping glasses, people talking back to me about my story, pretty much every kind of distraction.  But this was the first time I had someone tell me to fix a problem mid story.  For me, it felt very awkward, stopping my story and getting a mic and then starting over, but afterwards several people told me I handled it well.  That I picked up my story seamlessly. That I responded well to the audience member and didn’t look like I lost my cool.  I am glad it looked that way to them, because inside, my heart was pounding out of my chest.

After that, there were no further hiccups and I got through my story. There was a lot of laughter, which was great. It was a very heavy story so I added in some lighter elements, to give people a break from the hard knocks I was describing, and I am glad that went over well.

After Ellouise told her two excellent stories and the night wrapped up, I had a whole group of people coming up to me to offer sympathy over what I had talked about but also to share their own stories of similar experiences. This happens at many storytelling shows. It’s one of the things I love about storytelling. You tell a story about something that happened to you, in your life, and other people relate to it on a personal level.

Now that I have 30 minutes under my belt, the next challenge is finding another venue to perform it!  Can’t let all that hard work end there.

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2 Responses to “30 Minutes Down”

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Congratulations, Jessica!

I think a lot of people appreciate how relatable a story is, connecting people through the experiences that have been shared.

Thank you, Mary. I agree – it is a great way to make connections.


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