Stories are Everywhere: Brave storytellers set to divulge a little somethin’ at Cabin Fever Story Slams

By on December 6, 2017


The stage sits ready for those brave local storytellers at the last Story Slam. (Photo courtesy of Teton County Library

If Jeff Moran has learned anything from hosting the Cabin Fever Story Slams, it’s that stories are everywhere.

Moran, the chief marketing officer for the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club, has emceed Teton County Library’s regular storytelling events since the event’s beginnings in January 2014. He always shares his own story to kick off the event. To make sure he has one for each theme he keeps a running list in his phone any time a childhood memories pops into his mind, or something hilarious happens with his friends. Life, it turns out, is made up of stories and they bring people together, he said.

The library will host the next story slam at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Pink Garter Theater. The theme is “the last time.” Those brave enough to share a story should arrive early to throw their name in a drawing that will take place prior to the show.

Moran will draw the first name after his story and each storyteller will subsequently pick a name for a total of 10 storytellers (not counting Moran).

Each person selected will have five minutes to share their true story without the aid of notes.

Leah Shlachter, the adult program’s coordinator at Teton County Library, started the event after seeing one at Pacific University.

“It was magical,” she said.

The intimate event captivated her attention. There was nothing like it at the time in Jackson and she thought the community would embrace the format.

“It was incredibly simple,” she said. “Here is a microphone and here is a person telling you a story and then what transforms is so cool.”

Live storytelling connects people, she said. She worried people wouldn’t be brave enough to share, or they wouldn’t understand the format, but the event quickly grew. The library holds several story slams a year and usually more people volunteer to share stories than time allows.

People shouldn’t over think their stories, Shlachter said. People naturally know how to tell a good story. It needs a conflict and resolution. Start in the action and don’t give too much backstory, she said.

“And it’s not group therapy where you are just pouring your heart out,” she said.

Yet there is some soul baring, Moran said. The best stories are thoughtful, but not over-polished. The best storytellers aren’t acting or playing a part.

“They are just telling an authentic story,” he said. “When people tell a story where they are part of it, and it all has to be true and it’s about what they experienced – it’s really cool to see how the crowd embraces that and supports that authenticity.”

There are often stories of travel adventures and mishaps. Some stories are tragic, while others are light and accompanied by laughter. There’s always a story about meeting the person of your dreams, or that dream relationship falling apart, or a combination of the two, Moran said. Some stories are embarrassing. A surprising amount of stories deal with bodily functions — no matter the topic.

The story slams are technically a competition but for most people, both those who share and those who come just to listen, it’s not about winning a prize. It’s about sharing a perspective or listening to someone else’s.

When Moran agreed to emcee the first Cabin Fever Story Slam, he didn’t really understand the event. He was nervous when he learned he’d need to tell a story himself. It was exhilarating and humbling, and he felt vulnerable and exposed, he said. But he also felt connected to the people who listened.

He’s told dozens of stories since, but that fear is still there.

“It’s still a little terrifying,” he said. “I want people to know I’m terrified of telling a story too, but that’s part of the excitement and the energy.”

And the audience is always supportive of people who are sharing their true experiences, he said. The slams are an important reminder that storytelling is an ancient art form that still holds importance today.

“People baring their soul opens everyone up to being more accepting of each other,” he said. PJH

Cabin Fever Story Slam will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Pink Garter Theater.



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