There are many great venues to see good storytelling in Pittsburgh. There are monthly showcases, Moth Storyslams, and the Storytelling Festival that took place a few weekends ago. Storytelling is a unique experience: someone gets onstage and tells you a true story as they remember it. It’s not exactly standup and it’s not exactly a play monologue. Storytelling is a creature all its own. The Bricolage puts on their own storytelling event, Wordplay. The most recent one was last Friday night. Wordplay takes the usual format of a storytelling evening but adds something else: a soundtrack.
Five storytellers (some professional performers, some not) take turns sharing their tales. While they talk they are provided with music that helps to underscore the emotional or physical state they’re in. For example, if someone is working on figuring something difficult out the music may be “The Pink Panther” theme. Or maybe a moment of relief is paired with an instrumental version of “I Can See Clearly Now”. It’s a fun concept that adds something unique to the process, both complimentary to the entertainers while keeping the audience intently listening.
There was a good variety of stories this time around. First, artist/actor Parag S. Gohel shared a funny and somewhat graphic tale of when he accidentally drank the water in India, and the nerve-wracking four hour bus ride he had to take on an angry stomach. Adam Tobias, an emergency physician, told us about the puzzling and stressful things he has to deal with in his profession, although none were as puzzling as the time a patient came in with blue hands. Actress Siovhan Christensen recalls the years she lived abroad and the differences (both positive and negative) she observed about how people treated race. Brioclage artistic director Tami Dixon told us about two long walks she’d taken, one of which was a few years ago while on an acid trip. Moth StorySLAM host and comic Alan Olifson closed the night sharing the tale of his daughter’s loong dance recital that was interrupted by a furry flying fiend.
To the right of all the storytellers was DJ Keebs providing all the tunes (or “spinning tracks”, if you will). The night moved quickly as one performer would finish their story and walk off while another walked on in the same applause break. At the end the storytellers took a well-deserved bow and everyone was treated to refreshments in the lobby of Bricolage’s downtown space. Bricolage is approaching the end of their 2015 season, with some new Midnight Radio productions and other events coming up soon. Their final Wordplay event (for this year) will be on November 20th, which is sure to bring some great new stories and sweet tunes. Check them out!