My first storytelling night was Spark London, at the Canal Cafe Theatre, a few years ago. It’s the curated night, when storytellers and stories have been chosen, a single person and single spot light, speaking. I still remember some of the stories I heard. I heard a canal boat stag party story, only slightly less disturbing than the Peep Show episode, but just as funny. I heard the heart-wrenching story of a lost date and an Australian prom night, delayed by the fact taxis wouldn’t go to the neighbourhood. Honestly, who would be a teenager again?
Some of these stories and storytellers are discovered at Spark London Open Mic night, so I thought I’d go along and have a listen. I went to the Spark Open Mic night on Monday night, at the Hackney Attic, and as the doors opened and people took their seats, Dave, the host bobbed enthusiastically between tables, taking names of those who would tell stories, and gently encouraging others to take inspiration during the show, and sign up during the evening.
The theme was ‘Seeds’, and we heard stories of a child inspired by seeds their teacher planted, a community providing the seeds and roots needed for someone to leave them, literal seeds in the creation of a child…or not, the seeds of Dr Who fandom, and real seeds, to feed peacocks and accidentally crack teeth.
The sheer range of stories and interpretation of the theme meant that during the evening, people sat about the room became inspired, or just relaxed enough, to give their own thoughts and stories on the theme. An Open Mic has a very different atmosphere than a curated night – necessarily more collaborative and wide-ranging, a community of stories and thoughts, where the relationship between the audience and those on stage is fluid and open, and ever-changing. It’s less focused and more open.
If you’ve ever wondered if you would like to tell a story, or could, then I recommend the Open Mic heartily. It’s very relaxed and friendly, the range of stories and storytellers means that you’re encouraged to imagine yourself up there.
If you are tempted, their next Open Mic nights are themed One Night Stand, Head/Heart, and When Kennedy Was Shot. Go, tell a story.