Unforgettable: 2nd Story at Premise

When Bobby Biedrzycki, our Director of Programming, tapped me to curate the show “Unforgettable: Stories of Wonder and Awe,” I was thrilled to work with some of the stories and storytellers that I found to be unforgettable. The stories that we picked stood out to us not because of their spectacle or melodrama but because they exemplified the awe and wonder that all of us feel in our everyday lives. Familial loneliness, physical fear, human connection, and young love were the four themes that we found in these four stories, and what truer way to talk about our humanity than through these themes?

It was a bonus that Premise, the upscale cocktail lounge in Andersonville formerly known as In Fine Spirits, would be our venue for the evening. The second floor at Premise, the Salon, is a cozy room lit by elegant chandeliers the size and shape of Bundt cakes. Banquet couches and low-slung divans provided seating where everyone would have a great view of the storytellers. Our programming manager Pat Fries chipped in as box office manager for the night and manned the front entrance. Our sound designer and engineer Eric Hazen set himself up in one corner of the room while our Premise bartender Luke ran the fully stocked bar at the other end.

Our first storyteller of the night was Jessica Young, who told a story of loneliness in her family home and of the power of food in the fight with loneliness – its ability to heal as well as its darker grip over us. So many of us turn to food, either healthy or unhealthy food, as a way to fill the holes that we feel in our lives, but at what cost?

In between storytellers, our emcee Nick Ward kept the night flowing by letting folks know about all the ways that they can participate with 2nd Story, whether as a storyteller or a volunteer or even as a board member. He introduced each storyteller by relating to the audience what that teller had said was one piece of unforgettable art, and I certainly agreed with our second storyteller of the night that the ending of “A Rose for Emily” was absolutely unforgettable.

That second storyteller was Molly Each, whose story of idyllic Apple Valley, Minnesota, led us to the shattering of illusion and the all-too-common realization that the memory of fear can seem to fade but can re-appear with ferocity at a moment’s notice. Is fear the price of growing up?

Molly’s story highlighted the collaborative nature of our work. What sets us apart from any reading series is how much we collaborate in our art. I watched as Bobby, who directed the evening, worked with all the storytellers on the finding the right beats for their performances, and during dress rehearsal of Molly’s story, he and Eric (as sound designer) consulted the rest of the storytellers on the effectiveness of a sound cue during Molly’s recounting of the assault.

The next storyteller of the night was Laura Krughoff, who told a story first heard at Webster’s Wine Bar during our season opener. Her story explored her experience as a college teacher forced to confront her own suspicions and stereotypes when a young lady dressed head to toe in the Muslim veil joins her writing class.

All throughout the night, our producer Liz Gottman (who had already arrived hours before the show with Eric to set up speakers and lights) kept the night moving smoothly by ensuring that storytellers and the emcee knew where they were supposed to be at all times. She and Eric would also work late into the night to break down the set, and Liz would even have to suffer the indignity of a dead car battery!

Our final storyteller of the night, Andrew Reilly, brought us back to the high drama of junior high school when the questions “Does she like me?” and “How can I get her to like me?” consume the thoughts of even the most Nintendo-obsessed boy. In a moment of brilliance, Andrew turns to the lyrics of his favorite rock band to help him out.

The night at Premise felt like a resounding success. The final note of gratitude goes out to our audience, who shared with us and each other their time, attention and warmth. Do you have a second story inspired by the stories you heard at Premise? Leave them (or any other words you want to share) in the comments below!

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