If you’ve ever wanted to see if joining Chicago’s live lit scene is for you, you can find out in a stage setting anxiety-free this fall. Story Club host and founder Dana Norris is continuing a series of storytelling shows and classes at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 and Oct. 20 at Holiday Club on N. Sheridan Rd.
A handful of seasoned local live literature performers will tell a story under eight minutes long, centered around the common theme. Attendees will then be given the opportunity to ask questions of Norris and the other performers pertaining to their writing process, how to perform a piece, and anything in between.
I went to the recent August session with two women from my writers group. Performers at the August show included Norris, Lily Be, Erin Kahoa, and Keith Ecker. Upcoming shows will feature Norris, Be, Kahoa, and Andrew Marikis. The 20 or so attendees were invited to take notes if we wished, in case a story or line inspired us for our own essay ideas. Most of the tales used humor, but as it was pointed out in the Q&A session, that’s by no means a requirement for a solid piece.
Ecker explained that the best stories are the ones where you connect with people on a deep level. No one wants to hear about the time you were awesome — they want to hear about the time you fell flat on your face in spectacular fashion, because everyone has done that and can relate to it.
When it comes to process, just start writing something even if you don’t know where to begin. “Just brain-dump everything about an experience to jog your memory,” said Ecker. “Then shine on the specific things that matter.”
As for performance anxiety, Ecker quoted the great Chicago legend Susan Messing, who is known for the mantra, “Fuck the fear.”
It’s been on my list of New Year’s Resolutions since 2013 to perform in a live lit show. I’m petrified of public speaking, but I feel compelled to tell my stories. This class answered a lot of the questions I’d been wondering about, and now I think I’m more equipped to get on stage. Norris even provided the class with a calendar of live lit events throughout the city for when we feel we’re ready.
If you’re interested in learning more about live lit or Norris’s class, check out information here.