“The Porch” brings storytelling to downtown Provo

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One BYU student organized local storytelling nights in downtown Provo, with the hope of building a sense of community and self expression.

Derrick Clements started organizing “storytelling nights” last spring at Muse Music in downtown Provo.  Once a month, a line-up of storytellers all prepare to share their personal experiences on the stage. Clements got the idea from The Moth, a storytelling club in New York City with a regular podcast.

“I started listening to the podcast a few years ago and it introduced me to a new kind of storytelling,” Clements said. “I fell in love with the art form.”

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Derrick Clements” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
Whitney Call tells a personal story at a recent storytelling event, called "The Porch," at Muse Music in downtown Provo.
After some deliberation, Clements decided to name the event and organization “The Porch,” to convey the local community roots behind the project.

 

“I want the events to bring us together and feel like we’re all sitting on the same porch, sharing stories,” Clements said.

A stronger sense of community is the main goal behind The Porch.  Whitney Call, a storyteller at last month’s event and a BYU master’s student, said the event showcases Provo’s diversity.

“It’s so easy to come to Provo and think everyone’s the same, but getting together like this allows you to see the different experiences that are being brought to our community,” Call said.

Each event has a theme and the designated storytellers prepare accordingly. Recent themes have been “escape” and “painful memories.” Tonight’s theme is “elephant in the room.” With a  variety of storytellers for each event, there is a wide range of stories shared. Even though last month’s theme was “painful memories,” Call found room for humor and chose to share a story about repeatedly getting head lice as a kid.

Storytelling is an art form, but one doesn’t have to be a performer to be a good storyteller, Clements said.

“There doesn’t have to be one type of personality … people who are quiet and shy can be some of the best storytellers,” he said.

Storytelling is becoming an increasingly popular craft. There is even a storytelling course available at BYU.  Mallory Siebers, a junior studying broadcast journalism, took the class during spring term in hopes of helping with her major. The class included learning how to choose good stories and tell them effectively. Each student was required to share their stories in front of the class.

“We got to know each other well because we all chose personal, special stories,” Siebers said. ” There’s a bond because you know the stories and experiences that make people who they are.”

The bond that comes from sharing stories with each other is a natural reaction and something Clements hopes will catch on in the Provo community.

 

“We can appreciate each other more when we hear each other’s stories,” Clements said. “Gathering together and hearing stories is how we pass on our values and craft an identity. We want to combine all the different flavors of Provo and see how much experience our community has to offer.”

The Porch’s first event of the fall is happening tonight at 9 at Muse Music.  To be a storyteller at an upcoming event, contact .

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