Friday, April 19, 2013

Singlehandedly!—Portland Story Theater—East Portland

Everybody has/is a Story

This one-person event by eight storytellers is performed Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm beginning April 19th and concluding April 27th.  Their space is located at the Hipbone Studio, 1847 E. Burnside St., No. 104.  For further information on the shows, go to www.portlandstorytheater.com.

Although the above statement is true, not everybody knows how to relate a good story.  And when it becomes a personal outpouring, it is doubly hard, as you need to reveal yourself to strangers, thus becoming vulnerable.  In this venue, eight people over four nights will spew their stories onto a horde of the unsuspecting populous with, perhaps, a cathartic result for them and a learning experience for the listeners.

Storytelling can be related to primitive man with his cave paintings, telling stories of great adventures; Aesop with his moralistic fables; Native American and African tribes with their oral history traditions; the parables of Christ in the New Testament; and, on stage, 50 years ago, with Paul Sills Story theater and the musical, Godspell.  That evolution now includes the Personal Narrative monologues.

These eight performers are all different and unique in the relating of their histories.  One of the founders of the theater, Lynne Duddy, reveals how she discovered her duel identity and engages in an inner search of an exploration of nature versus nurture in our upbringing.  Her manner is one of warmth, as if she were sitting with you in front of a cozy fireplace and telling her story.  Her life partner and co-founder, Lawrence Howard, relates precious childhood moments with his father, uncle and brother in upstate New York.  As he reveals the laughter, bonding, and limericks, it’s as if you were there with him, sitting around the campfire.

Kriya Kaping is a daring lady, seeming to live by her family motto, “’If it doesn’t kill you, it makes for a great story!’”  She reveals her adventures in Latin America of building latrines, warring with chickens for space, and learning how to make a…x-rated pastry.  The charm of her delivery would make a leprechaun’s toes curl and his teeth grow hair.  Brad Forter relates his growth from a self-contained gaming nerd to Improv comedy.  A revealing tale of transformation, from “Mr. Shrink and Hide”/Invisible man, bursting into the world of social reality.

The Guest Artist-in-Residence, Annie La Ganga, is from Texas.  She describes herself as a Seeker, especially in Spiritual realms, looking for a way to connect with her mother, who died early in Annie’s childhood.  But in her, sometimes humorous search, she’s also acutely aware that, of the many churches she will explore, there will also be a good story attached to them.  Penny Walter has a menagerie to aid her in her narrative, her puppets.  She tours with them as a storyteller to impoverished countries.  But they also they help her touchingly reveal the sudden death of her father and her having to deal with a mother who has Alzheimer’s.

Eric Stern offers his story as a confession, as he was a thief much of his life.  His style is one of frankness, humor and redemption.  Annie Rosen is a doll.  You can’t help but love her, as her personality is infectious.  She weaves her spell with music, fiddle and mandolin, and gives a glimpse of the working of a street person, as she tries to earn her living in this way.  And, along the path, she discovers her own self-worth and value.

Not by chance, I suspect, many of these individuals, in their own lives, reach out to the deeper depths of humanity, by helping others in need.  Perhaps they are not just content to sit on the sidelines, but are willing to go the extra mile, and dig deep into the soul of humanness.  And maybe the stories of these adventures, not only reveal a universality to a common plight, but serve as a sort of validation to the storytellers themselves.

This is well worth seeing for so many reasons.  Consider it a personal journey for all involved.  It is adult subject matter and language, though.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.