the living art of storytelling in Massachusetts
Revised : AUG 2013
What is a story slam? Based on a poetry slam format and similar to American Idol, a story slam is a contest of words by known and undiscovered talent. massmouth posts a theme on it's website (www.massmouth.ning.com) and story slammers will sign up on the night to tell a 5-minute short story on the evening's theme and a lucky eight to ten names will be drawn at random from a box. Other audience members may feel moved to join in on a judging team. There will be a team of 5 judges - interested amateurs, storytellers, theater people and anyone who loves stories. Each set of 5 stories will begin with a story by a sacrificial tellers, usually one of the past winners. Listeners will be engaged in story improv games and other interactive entertainments between each 5 minute feature.
Each of the featured 5 minute stories is judged on how well it is told, how well it is constructed and how well the story explores,connects and/or reveals some truth about the theme and, how well it honors the time limit.
The 2 highest-scoring tellers and 1 Audience Choice are awarded prizes and an opportunity to perform in semifinals and if they progress, into the "The Big Mouthoff" at the Coolidge Corner Theater April 17th, 2013 at 7PM. Prizes will be awarded at each slam. Any slam winner may put aside their title and enter again but they lose their place in the semifinals if they do not win another slam.
Two New Rules:
1) It is part of our mission to bring new people to storytelling. Contestants who have already performed in one slam a month or 3 slams this season will have lowest priority and depending on the field of stories may not be added to random draw for a month. If there are no new tellers for that slam they will be added to the draw.
2)A slammer who has not told at a massmouth slam in the current season (slam season running Autumn to Spring) and has put their name in the hat 3 consecutive times will get half price admission at their next slam and their name thrown into the newcomers hat, but an e-mail must be sent with information prior to slam at email@example.com
Depending on the venue, there is a $5.00 - $12.00 cover. Students get a discount with an ID. Some people with stories, who are new to storytelling also get a deal - check at each event. Discounts and deals vary from theme to theme and venue to venue.
5 minutes? 5 minutes means...5 minutes. You loose points if you use the entire 60 second grace period to wind up.
Real stories? The audience and the judges are expecting real life adventures. Real stories have a beginning, middle and end. And they have a point. You are clear about why the story is important to you and why you want to tell it. Retelling any folktale, myth or fable is not encouraged in this context. No retelling of literary works is permitted and if we discover that you have pirated someone's story or you have told a 90% fictive tale, without explicitly revealing this- you will be disqualified from all competition and prizes in that season (copyright laws apply, and this is a competition of true stories, not storytelling). Poetry is not encouraged - unless the poem is original, 5 minutes long and tells a story .
Presentation: Your story presentation is important. It tells us why and how we should listen to you. Your voice and body are instruments of your art. You use voice, gesture and movement to the best of your ability in the service of your story.
Theme: Your story, not just the title or "punch line" connects in any meaningful way to the theme. This is wide open and helps you focus at the same time
Practice: You have to practice. One tip is memorizing the beginning and the ending words of your story by heart. It helps with confidence and focus. Practicing - before a mirror, into a recorder, in the car when alone, in your head before you go to sleep or before you get out of bed - all help. Do at least some of these MANY times. You will be glad you did.
Funny, Sad, Genuine? Funny is good, sad is real but all must be genuinely in service to the story. That is what makes yours a story worth listening to and sets it apart from rants, stand up and what you tell your therapist or best friend.
· What is story slam? Simply put, story slam is a competition based on the art of storytelling. It puts a dual emphasis on content and performance, encouraging storytellers to focus on what they're saying and how they're saying it. It is an exercise in crafting stories within a set time limit and it's great entertainment.
massmouth story slams are competitive events in which storytellers perform their work and are judged by panels made up of professional and non-professional storytellers who are massmouth members and members of the audience. Typically, the host or another organizer selects the judges, who are instructed to give numerical scores (on a 0 to 10 or 1 to 10 scale) based on the storyteller's content and performance.
· Who gets to participate? massmouth story slams are open to everyone 18+ years of age who wishes to sign up and can get into the venue. 10 names are selected from a box of slips entered by attendees with a story.
· What are the rules? The basic rules are: Each story must be of the storyteller’s own construction – Copyright laws apply to literary works, so do not tell them.
The audience and the judges are expecting real life adventures.
Retelling any folktale, myth or fable is not encouraged at our slams.
If we discover that you have pirated someone's story or you have told a 90% fictive tale, without explicitly revealing this, you will be disqualified from all competition and prizes in that season (copyright laws apply, and this is a competition of true stories, not storytelling).
Poetry is not allowed - even if the poem is original, 5 minutes long and tells a story.
Each storyteller gets 5 minutes (plus a 1 minute grace period) to tell a story. If the storyteller goes over the 6 minute time, 1 full point will be deducted from the total score.
The storyteller may not use props(including a written page) , costumes or musical instruments.
Winners may not participate in subsequent competitions but may be invited as feature tellers.
· Are the rules the same from slam to slam? We will adhere to these basic guidelines as updated and posted at massmouth.com / events. We are working out the rules and voting as we are new to this format. Winners advance to the big mouthoff .
· How often do slams happen? What is the big mouthoff ? : Winners advance to the big mouthoff which is a yearly slam between the winners of the monthly slams."the big mouthoff" at the Coolidge Corner Theater on April 17th, 2013 at 7PM Prizes will be awarded at each slam.
· How does a story slam differ from an open mic?A story slam is a challenge to the teller and a gift to the audience, whereas a number of open mic settings are meant as a support network for storytellers. Slam performances are crafted for the audience.
· What can the audience do? Listen, laugh, applaud & weep. No interrupting. No heckling.
· What kind of stories are told at slams? Personal narrative, tales from real life and YOUR personal experience is the intent of these events.
massmouth story slams 2013-2014 "Because have a life, you have a story. Bring it!"
Sun, Sept 8, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Doyle's Cafe -- "Accident"
Mon, Sept 16, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Club Passim -- "Used"
Sat, Sept 21, 2013 2:30PM-5:30PM @the Burren -- "TBA"
Sun, Oct 13, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Doyle's Cafe -- "Spirit"
Sat, Oct 19, 2013 2:30PM-5:30PM @the Burren -- "TBA"
Mon, Oct 21, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Club Passim -- "Magic"
Sun, Nov 10, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Doyle's Cafe -- "Serendipity"
Sat, Nov 16, 2013 2:30PM-5:30PM @the Burren -- "TBA"
Mon, Nov 18, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Club Passim -- "Dare"
Sun, Dec 8, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Doyle's Cafe -- "Revelation"
Mon, Dec 16, 2013 6:30PM-9:30PM @Club Passim -- "Bittersweet"
Sun, Jan 12, 2014 6:30PM-9:30PM @Doyle's Cafe -- "Foreign"
Sat, Jan 18, 2013 2:30PM-5:30PM @the Burren -- "TBA"
Mon, Jan 20, 2014 6:30PM-9:30PM @Club Passim -- "Lost"
Sun, Feb 9, 2014 6:30PM-9:30PM @Doyle's Cafe -- "Jealousy"
Sat, Feb 15, 2013 2:30PM-5:30PM @the Burren -- "Missed Connections"
Mon, Feb 17, 2014 6:30PM-9:30PM @Club Passim -- "Desire"
2013 - 2014 Grand Finale slam of all season finalists ~ this year at
Storytelling Techniques Laura Gibbs - great stuff in abundance at her sites:
Every time a storyteller tells a story, there are an infinite number of different ways to tell the story. Below you will find a list of different ways you might choose to tell a story. Even though this list is very long, it is not complete. There are still many, many more possible ways to tell a story beyond the suggestions provided here.
So, you can use this list to get a specific idea for how you might want to retell a story... or you can use this list as a way to get your creative juices flowing, so that you end up with a completely new storytelling technique that is not even listed here.
First-Person Narration: Most stories you find in books are told in third-person. You can retell the story in first-person, choosing one of the characters in the story to be the narrator. You might choose one of the main characters as your narrator, or you can choose one of the marginal characters. You can even choose an inanimate object to tell the story: imagine the story of King Arthur and "the sword in the stone" as told by the sword - or by the stone!
Dear Diary: One of the most popular ways to create a first-person narration is to retell a story in the form of a diary or a journal, written by the one of the characters in the story.
Frametale: You can take the story and insert it inside a "frame" which gives an added meaning to the story. So you can imagine a grandpa talking to his grandkids, a preacher who uses a story in a sermon, a reporter writing a story for a newspaper, etc.
Dialogue: You can really develop a story by adding dialogue, or expanding on the dialogue that is already there. Dialogue is a way to bring out the specific qualities of the different characters, allowing them to express themselves emotionally!
Interview: One way to create a dialogue scene is to stage an interview. You can imagine a reporter interviewing someone for a newspaper story, Oprah interviewing someone who is a guest on her show, a lawyer interviewing a witness on the stand, etc.
Television or Theater Script: In a more extreme form of the "dialogue" style, you can write out the story as if it were a scene, or a series of scenes, from a play or movie, expressing the plot of the story through the words spoken by the characters (along with stage directions, as necessary).
Poetry / Ballad: Some stories can be retold in the form of a poem, or in the form of a ballad. In fact, ballads are one of our most important sources for European legends and tales!
Dialect: If a story is written in standard English, you might choose to tell the story in dialect, such as Valley Girl talk, hip hop version, etc. If the story is already written in dialect, you can create your own version of the story by translating the dialect back into standard English.
Modernization / Change Setting: You can change the setting of the story to a setting you are more familiar with, adapting the story to a modern setting, such as a college campus, the business world, world of crime, Hollywood, etc.
The"Twist": You can change the ending of the story, telling "what really happened," ask "what if...?" etc.
Sequel / Prequel: You can use your imagination to describe events and scenes that take place before the actual story, or you can write a story that explains what happens after the final part of the actual story (what really happened when Beauty got married to the Beast...?)
There are all kinds of possibilities, of course - this list is just to give you some ideas if you are feeling stuck!
Author: Laura Gibbs. Kaleidoscope images from Kaleidoscope Painter. Updated: August 14, 2009 9:42 PM .
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Hi Norah, etc.
I have been very inspired by this event, and have just come up with a brand new 'scared to death' story for Monday night! I'm looking forward to being frightened in turn by the contestants.