, Newburyport, MA

April 11, 2013

'Everybody has a story'

Storytellers talk family at Newburyport Slam on Sunday

By Katie Lovett
Features Editor

---- — As a child, Amy Goldfarb was constantly amused by endless stories and jokes told by her father, a natural storyteller who loved to entertain others and share his tales.

“Telling stories is just what you did,” said Goldfarb, who spent her childhood in upstate New York.

As an adult, Goldfarb, 49, who now lives in Haverhill, worked in improvisational theater and led leadership training seminars for business executives.

Her passion for storytelling remained a constant part of life. In the late 1990s when she heard about The Moth, a nonprofit group of professional and amateur storytellers that held live events around New York City, Goldfarb was intrigued.

So when the group visited Boston as part of a tour last fall, she was determined to get a seat.

Goldfarb began hearing chatter about various groups organizing story slams around the Greater Boston area, and she knew that she had to attend a session. Picking a date for a session at a Jamaica Plain restaurant, Goldfarb and her husband, Reggie Pearse, invited a group of friends over beforehand to practice telling their stories for an audience.

It worked — Goldfarb and her husband both won prizes that night. More importantly, they were hooked on story slams.

“We had so much fun, it was just fabulous,” she said. “I love entertainment. I love good theater, but I also love that life is stranger than fiction, that everybody has a story.”

The couple began to regularly attend the programs throughout the Boston area, while musing about how nice it would be if a slam were held closer to home.

The idea clicked, and with the help of her husband and friends, Goldfarb will be holding her first Story Slam at The Grog in Newburyport on Sunday. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the storytelling begins at 7.

Audience members interested in telling a story on the night’s set theme — family — can enter their names in a hat. Ten storytellers will be selected throughout the evening to tell a 5-minute real life story in the first person, without the use of props or notes. Of course, not everyone has to tell a story to participate — audience members can choose just to observe.

All of the storytellers will be filmed and the clips will be put up on YouTube. The winners will receive prizes.

Goldfarb, who already has a second slam lined up for May 19 at The Grog, said she chooses a theme for each session that storytellers can take in different directions.

“It has to be broad enough that it doesn’t dictate the tenor of the story,” she added. “‘Family’ can go either way.”

For Goldfarb, story slams offer an opportunity to connect with others in “a very authentic way.”

“It’s not scripted,” she said. “You leave feeling good, you leave feeling connected. That’s my goal. That’s why I want to do this.”

IF YOU GO What: Newburyport Story Slam When: Sunday, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30) Where: The Grog, 13 Middle St., Newburyport How: $10 at the door. All proceeds will go to StoriesLive, a nonprofit organization that brings storytelling to high schools across the state.