Key West’s history is drenched in stories. Not only have we
had some of our country’s greatest storytellers among us – Tennessee Williams
and Ernest Hemingway foremost among them – but you can’t sit at a bar or
restaurant anywhere in town and not
hear someone recounting some personal tale of derring-do, woe, joy, tragedy, or
Sunday nights, TheatreXP, the founders and producers of THE
KEY WEST SUMMER STAGE in Key West, present STORY SLAMS, an evening dedicated to the art of storytelling, but
with a twist or two that virtually guarantees an evening of fun, pathos,
laughter, and – maybe – a tear or two. It all depends on you.
“I was introduced to STORY
SLAMS in Philadelphia,” said TheatreXP founder and producer, Bob Bowersox.
“They are the most anticipated evenings in the city’s entertainment, and always
draw capacity crowds. I mean, think about it – real people telling true stories
from their lives, which creates an intimate, and often enlightening
experience for the audience. It’s unique.”
Not to mention that it could be lucrative for the teller of
the best story of the night. The top three winners receive a portion of a $250 cash prize pool for the Best Stories,
judged by the audience who hear all the tales. Bragging rights as top
storytellers go along with the loot.
SLAMS take place on specified Sundays at a specified venue in Key West (for the schedule, see the "New Events" page on this website). Anyone who wants to tell a
story is invited to sign up by 7:30 pm, with the stories unrolling at 8. There
will be only 12 slots open, so early sign-up is recommended.
“There are some rules to keep in mind,” Bowersox said.
“First, the stories have to be true. They have to have happened to you, not
your sister, wife, or best friend. Each storyteller will be given five minutes
at the microphone. You don’t have to use all five, but you can’t have more than
that. We’ll be very strict on the time. And most importantly, you have to stick
to the theme of the night in your story.”
The idea for STORY
SLAMS originated with NPR’s THE MOTH,
the acclaimed organization that has produced the radio show of the same name
since 1997. MOTH shows are renowned
for the great range of human experience they showcase, and STORY SLAMS provide the same results. Any evening’s stories can
dance between documentary and theater, intimate confession and personal
revelation. The fact that anyone can
tell their story guarantees the audience will hear a wide range of stories.
Bowersox said there are some guidelines, though. “This is
not the place for rants or essays, political diatribe or social attacks. And
while we love funny people, it’s also not a comedy club – standup “routines”
are not necessarily personal true stories, and we don’t allow them. The
audience will be looking for a sense of personal truth from you, and the
stories that win are usually the most personal and heartfelt, be they funny or
Other tips he has: Put some stakes in your story…make the
audience care. Start with a great first line, something that grabs attention.
Find a solid ending – don’t meander into one. Know your story well enough that
you don’t have to read it – you don’t necessarily have to memorize it, but know
it “by heart” enough that you know the main points and can string them together
into a coherent and entertaining story. And most of all….have fun.
For more information on STORY SLAMS, call TheatreXP at 302-540-6102.