Storytelling is a fun way for nonfiction and memoir writers to hone their craft. Speaking before an audience is a great skill all authors who hope to succeed should master, think of all those booksignings in your future!
At a spoken word open mic, one tells a tale, meets an audience and gets honest feed-back in real time. We in the DC region are blessed with one of the most robust open mic cultures in the country. I will post on this page a growing list I have put together of open mics in DC. There are many more in Arlington, Bethesda, Hyattsville and the other 'burbs.
So, what happens at an open mic? One comes to a venue, usually a coffee shop, to find a stage and a live microphone. After signing up as a storyteller with a tale to tell, one listens politely to the other amazing talents brave enough to share their talent with the room. Word of advice: cheer each performer, whether good, bad, brilliant or awful and await your turn. When it is your turn, tell a tale that has a defined beginning, middle and end that fits within the time allotted (usually 5 or 7 minutes). Your tale must fit the rules of the venue so pay attention to those rules! At the end of your tale, accept the applause politely and sit down. At the end of the night, one may hang around a bit to the end of the event to help clean up and to receive those comments people are kind enough to give you.
Scary, exhilarating, amusing, insightful, for the teller as well as the listener, storytelling is fun. It is useful as a skill because all communication relies on the telling of tales. Let us all go to one of the more welcoming open-mics in the city. Bloombars Garden Open Mics occur on Monday nights between 9pm and 11. One should arrive by 8:30 to get on the list of performers. They welcome all types of performances that fit on their stage. So, expect singer/songwriters, poets, dancers and more. Entry is $7 each and all.
If you would like to tell a story, come prepared with a story. House rules require that the story be appropriate for an audience of all ages. This means, no foul language, no erotica, nothing that one may not say in front of a rather sophisticated child of 5. For instance, discussion of the rules of safe-sex is fine but descriptions of the mechanics of safe sex is not. Bloombars allows for 5 minutes only.
The tale may be fiction or nonfiction but it must be an original tale or one in the commons. Copyright issues are a real problem for venues that offer open mics so please be careful not to perform anything that you do not have absolute right to tell. Not even something you have received permission to perform from a third party, less the venue get in trouble for broadcasting that performance.
And, if you do not want to tell a tale, come to hear the tales that your fellow writers may perform or to enjoy the venue. Stop by Bloombars at 8:30 to sign up for a tale telling slot if you want to tell a story. Then meet us at a table at Room 11 4 doors down (on the corner, we will be on the patio, if we can score a table at this hotspot, or at the bar, if not) for a quick drink or appetizer. Back to Bloombar for the 9pm start time. If you are no telling a story, no need to come before 9.
Note that this will be a late night for many, especially those coming from further out in Virginia.