Seven on Stage

Community is at the heart of 7-Stories, a live storytelling event in downtown Raleigh that spotlights seven individuals sharing a 7-minute-long personal essay on stage at King’s Barcade. All the stories revolve around a loose theme, such as “Food Service Tales of Terror” or “Hangovers & Promises”.

“We wanted a storytelling event that was held in an informal setting and would allow for regular folks to share personal stories,” says co-founder Justin Scranton, an eDiscovery consultant. “When people are willing to be honest and share a part of themselves to a larger audience, their story becomes part of who we are as a community.”

Scranton along with friends Eric Mack, who works in disability services, and photographer Brad Habeeb hatched the idea of 7-Stories in the early months of 2015, and launched the first, themed “The Lie Becomes the Truth,” shortly thereafter in August. Since then, the trio has partnered with graphic designer Adam Hanjos, King’s Barcade, Crawlspace Press and So & So Books, who have all helped get the project off the ground

We sat down with Scranton to learn more about the event, the best talks and what’s next.

What have been some of the challenges in making this project happen?

When we started, we had no idea what we were doing. The hardest part is lining up seven storytellers each month. We are asking a lot from folks and people have busy, complicated lives that require shifting priorities. So, I am always a little stressed until I have my seven folks at King’s before the show.

Why the number seven?

The number seven has all sorts of mythology and numerology wrapped into it. We wanted to tap into that. We also wanted to give folks a time to shoot for and a 1,000 word story lands at about seven minutes.

Who has told some of your favorite stories?

Bobby Covais told a hilarious story at our “Food Service Tales of Terror” show that brought the house down. It was a story of a particularly difficult customer who he eventually hosed down with the soda gun. Kelly Reid of Little Raleigh Radio shared a story about letting go of body image issues at our “Hangovers & Promises” show. Last month, local artist and community organizer Suzy Hooker told a story of her most recent tattoo (on her middle finger) at our “Ink show”. The tattoo symbolized an amazing transformation in her life.

Are they humorous? Dramatic? Both?

Our stories have run the table in terms of style. We have had gut wrenching honesty, tales of personal pain and recovery and all sorts of hilarity.

How do you help writers strike that balance between personal and entertaining?

Our writers/performers bring a lot of life experience to their stories. Some need help with the shape of the story but that collaboration is fun. For the performance, the only thing I stress is to be authentic. If you are nervous, tell the crowd.

What have been some highlights?

The single greatest highlight for me is watching people come off of the stage. They radiate. We have actually starting taking a picture of them. People are often afraid just before they start but once they’re done, there is this amazing emotional response. I have also enjoyed seeing the 7-Stories “community” grow.

You partner with local communities. Can you tell us more how that works?

We are still working on this but our vision is for 7-Stories to become a showcase and fundraiser for other communities. For example, our August show will be an all women’s show as part of the inaugural Raleigh Women’s Theatre Festival (WTF). One of our former storytellers Rose Higgins will be the host and all the proceeds will be donated to the WTF. We hope [this] model will encourage [others] to use 7-Stories as a vehicle to help build their community.

What’s next?

Writing workshops are in the works. Our goal is to help people who want to tell a story but want feedback. Thus far, these have been one-on-ones with me and the storyteller. They are great for both of us. We hope this evolves into a more formal meeting.

For a list of upcoming shows visit
www.7-stories.com.

Alexandra Drosu

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