As StoryOly completes its third season of raconteurial entertainment, host (and professional storyteller) Elizabeth Lord is busily making plans for 2018’s “Grand Slam” finale. Winners from the preceding 11 monthly events compete head to head for the votes of celebrity judges. (Disclosure: This writer was among those monthly winners.) StoryOly is a monthly “story slam” event in which tellers are given a maximum of eight minutes to relate an occurrence from their own lives, usually to humorous or bittersweet effect. It’s become one of Rhythm & Rye’s most popular events and generally gets underway at 5:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month.
“When we began,” Lord recalls, “we might have only six tellers in the night. There wouldn’t be that many people signed up.” In those days, to pad the bill and calm anxious tellers, a featured speaker served as introductory icebreaker. “Now we have plenty,” she adds, “so why use up the time with special guests when we can just have [more] participants?” Each monthly event has an assigned topic, but competitors in the Grand Slam are free to choose their own subject matter. Those participants are expected to include the winner of the August 21 event, “Courage.”
Monthly winners for the past year include former Associated Press reporter Parker Foster, Tamara Fife Fulwyler, Zoe Johnson, agroforester Kirk Hanson, Horizons Elementary art teacher Amada Lang, Meenu Nath from New Delhi, Lauren Peterson, Kell Rowen, Paul Sating, Bruce Smith and Whitney Trotta. Lord says past winners (Jamie Rainwood, for example) unable to attend the Grand Slam may be replaced by non-winning competitors who scored highly in a number of qualifying slams.
StoryOly has been so successful Lord added a one-time, April 2018 event for alumni of The Evergreen State College who now live in Seattle. “The one expansion that I’m really hoping to get going,” she says, “is to get into the high schools … or maybe the under-21 crowd.” She notes younger attendees can be seen joining what was once predominantly middle-aged crowds. Asked how the tone of tellers’ stories has shifted, she muses, “I think perhaps people are taking greater risks, sharing more personal moments in their lives.”
StoryOly Grand Slam
8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15
Rhythm & Rye,
311 Capitol Way N, Olympia
$10-$20 suggested donation