April Fools Day is a day best known for jokes, fables and tall tales told to impress.
The Grande Prairie Live Theatre is starting up a weekly platform of online only entertainment called Virtual Variety Nights.
The first presentation in the series–which starts on April 1 at 7 p.m.– is titled Story Slam. The theme for the night is practical jokes.
“I used to take part in the Edmonton Story Slam every month,”GPLT board member and host for the night Alyssa Hudson said. “Sometimes, I would tell a story, and sometimes I would just listen. I loved hearing the wide variety of stories, but more than that I loved how different the story tellers were.
“I got to see people who told stories professionally, and some who had never spoken in front of a group before in their lives. I heard stories from writers, poets, carpenters, and salespeople. I laughed and gasped and cried and clapped along side people who I may never have crossed paths with otherwise. Many were good, a few were not so good, but there were a couple that have stayed with me ever since.”
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Story Slam is a storytelling contest where up to 10 storytellers have a chance to impress with an original story and win prizes including the prestigious STORY SLAMMER of the NIGHT AWARD!
Hudson noted her background makes her a natural fit to host the show.
“I come from a family of storytellers,” Hudson said. “We all have learned ways to pull focus at the dinner table. Maybe that’s why for me it feels like telling a story is like sharing a piece of myself, and hearing a story is like receiving a piece of someone else. Right now it feels like we are all going through something big together. But this big something is keeping us apart. I hope that joining – even virtually – to share pieces of ourselves is one way that we can find connection amidst the social distance.”
Apparently, the only challenge Hudson faced when telling a story was the time limit.
“The hardest thing for me, was keeping my story under five minutes,” Hudson said. “Once, when I tried to tell a story that I hadn’t written down, I got the seven minute gong. After writing my story, I would time myself reading it and I’d always have to cut out a couple hundred words. I would slash away until I could tell it in rehearsal in four and a half minutes. Even still, I once lost the finals by half a point because of a time penalty. I feel like I should have been heartbroken, but really my heart was anything but broken — It was full, fierce, and on fire.”
For more information, to sign up as a storyteller, or to get an audience link, the GPLT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website at gplt.ca
For the month of April the virtual events are free of charge; though the GPLT will take donations to keep live theatre going.
Future variety nights will include singer-songwriters, theatre sports improv, new plays and youth-programmed events.