Category: Storytelling Event

Transition Podcast

TransitionAnother month, another guest host, another Transition. This time it was Alison Ahlgrim hosting our event. Alison did such a nice job getting you up there and you did such a nice job getting your stories out.

Coming out, suicide, breakups, and farts.

They also involves bravery. All different levels and forms of it and the kind of bravery that lets you come out to your dad or talk about attempting suicide in front of strangers commingles with the kind of bravery that lets you let someone else take the blame for your stanky cleanse fart.

Our next event is October 7th at Crescendo and the theme is It Ain’t Fair.

And now, the stories.

Alison Ahlgrim – They Get Harder
Rick – Really Similar
William – Essential, but Inefficient
Andrew – Remain in Transition
Kevin Gibbons – Eat, Pray, Fail
Anonymous – Something about the Twin Cities
Susan – Don’t Resist
Kevin Gibbons – Still Dreaming
Rick – Men Do Not

Crossing the Line Podcast

Crossing the Line

Welcome back to Crescendo after a summer off for our Crossing the Line story night. Our friend Esteban Touma hosted the event and he’s funny and charming as always. Esteban also noticed that you all have a thing about dead animals.

Turns out that crossing the line involves a lot of dead animals.

Our next event will be October 7th at Crescendo. We’ll announce the theme on our Facebook page. We’ll also be continuing our storytelling workshops. The next one is September 18th at Madison Central Library’s Bubbler Room. We’ll be working with Jen Rubin who is a producer for The Moth in Madison and has told stories at our mic. Speaking of The Moth, Esteban will be hosting their event this coming Monday.

And now, the stories.

Esteban – The Biggest Line in the World
Heather – D.I.N.K.s
John – Tight Clamp
Alan – Threshold, Stolen Cookies, The Belt, Threshold
Eric story bloc – Know What You Are About; Ghengis Khan and the Hawk; Power of No; Chamber of Treasures
John – Another Dog Story
Mykel – Breaking the Law and Crossing the Line

#22: Celebrate Recordings

Because you HAVE to celebrate.

Celebrate Something

Celebrate Something

Here are the full stories that our podcast promised. No pictures this time because our batteries were dead, but the recorder was operated correctly this time so we got all of the stories recorded. This probably means that next time we’ll have everything operating correctly and you will get your full post event media run down.

We celebrated a lot or covered a lot of ways to celebrate. There are even some stories that didn’t have much to celebrate, but that’s okay. You can tell whatever story you want to. If you diverge from the theme no one will react violently, at least not during our event. I can’t vouch for anyone’s conduct after the lights go down and we put away the stage.

Next month we’ll be at the Central Library for another Night Light event. We’ll be there on January 9th and we’ll be telling stories about rivalries. Start thinking about your archenemies and with a little over a month to go you could always make a nemesis (see this article for the distinction between archenemy and nemesis so you know which one you want) to tell a story about.

So Long Shalom by Jess King

My Plan Worked by Brendon Panke

Ho Ho Ho Ho Party by Alison Ahlgrim

Guardian by Peter Boger

Tin Star by Anonymous

Hawaii for Work by Anonymous

This Is The Life by Anonymous

The Arboretum by Keefe Keeley

#21: I Thought I Was Going to Die Recordings

I Thought I Was Going to DieAnd here are the full stories from our I Thought I Was Going to Die event! Most of them anyway. In our post from earlier today I alluded to the number of stories recorded not being equal to the number of stories told. Sadly, I totally messed up by forgeting to clear the memory card on our recorder. That means we ran out of room and missed the excellent stories told by John, Matt, Annie (with Théo), Sam, this guy, and this lady (sorry I don’t know your names this guy and this lady, but I’ve been telling your stories to everyone I meet for the past week if that makes up for it at all). I feel like an ass because I loved the stories that weren’t recorded. I’m sorry I missed recording them, but at least I got to hear them once. I guess we can all learn a lesson about always going to story nights so you don’t completely miss out on really good, funny, and insightful stories.

Here are the stories we did get. Which are also good stories. In the past we’ve hosted the stories on Mix Cloud and then put together a playlist. We’re not doing that anymore since Mix Cloud is weird and doesn’t let you search backwards in the story. Now we’re just giving you individual players for each track AND DOWNLOAD LINKS! Which some of you have been clamoring for. It only takes one to clamor after all. It’s why there is more clamoring than tangoing.

Growing Cedar by Laurel Bastian

The Names Have Been Changed But the Problems are Real by Peter Boger

Accidental Waifest by Adam Rostad

There are No Coincidences by Steel Wagstaff

Something That Happened to Me Today by Glen Frieden

Princess in the Graveyard by Alison Ahlgrim

If you are really disappointed that your story didn’t get recorded you can contact us and we can set up a time to record your story. I’d love to come record your story because it is a good story and you should be proud of it. Everyone should hear it and since literally everyone comes to our site at least once a day we can make sure everyone does hear it.

We’ll let you know when and where the next story night is real soon.

True Stories at the Wisconsin Book Festival

There are a lot of people telling stories from their own lives at the Wisconsin Book Festival this year. The festival starts on Thursday and since you’re all very busy folks we collected some of the events involving the kinds of stories we tell at our events into one pithy list for you. Wisconsin Book Festival

Kipp Friedman
10/16/2014 – 5:00pm
Central Library – The Bubbler

Molly Wizenberg
10/16/2014 – 6:30pm
The Kitchen Gallery

Gail Sheehy
10/17/2014 – 7:30pm
Central Library – Community Room

Caitlin Doughty
10/17/2014 – 9:00pm
Central Library – Community Room

Lauren Alleyne
10/18/2014 – 11:00am
Room of One’s Own

June Melby
10/18/2014 – 12:00pm
Wisconsin Historical Museum

Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski
10/18/2014 – 1:30pm
Central Library – The Bubbler

Michael Forster Rothbart Danny Wilcox Frazier Scott Strazzante
10/19/2014 – 11:00am
Overture Center for the Arts – Promenade Hall

You should also check out the Monsters of Poetry on Friday and Nerd Nite on Saturday because those are both beautiful efforts being put forth by people right here in Madison. Also, their regular events don’t conflict with our regular events! You can do so much in this town! Get out there and do it all! Include our next story night on October 24th at 7 pm at Arboretum Cohousing as part of the all that you are out there doing. Make sure to have a truly harrowing experience before the 24th so you can come tell us about it.

Interim Story Solutions: Story Podcasts

Boom! Podcasts blowing up like fireworks!

Risk Podcasts

We’re resting for the summer, but there are still plenty of other ways to get ahold of some stories. In addition to the local storytelling groups we list here, there are a number of other storytelling podcasts.

The Moth – When most people think about people telling true stories to an audience of strangers, they think about this one. July 14th and 29th they’ll be in Chicago, July 19th they’ll be in Milwaukee, and July 30th they’ll be in St. Paul (check their list of events).

True Story – True Story is a podcast that has featured one of our own storytellers, so they are obviously putting out hight quality entertainment.

Erica is currently obsessed with Risk!, by currently I mean she told me about it a couple of months ago, but she probably hasn’t done anything but listen to it since then. Risk tries to reappropriate its name from a tedious board game by challenging people to tell stories they never thought they would tell in public. You can see people either overcome or succumb to their shame live in Chicago when Risk is there on the 22nd of July.

On August 2nd, you can see Mortified in Chicago. Mortified features people betraying their younger selves by trotting all sorts of childhood ephemera up on stage and telling stories about it. It’s fun because you don’t owe your younger self anything. Fuck that dude or dudette.

If you know of any other groups, events, or podcasts let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Our next event is September 5th at Madison Public Library’s Bubbler Night Light Event. The Bubbler has a lot going on this summer so be sure to go do some of those things while you are waiting to tell stories again.

#19: So Long for Now

So Long for Now

So Long for Now, but we’ll see you again September 5th.

We got together at Hudson Park on Friday the 13th to say “So Long for Now”. There weren’t many bugs, there were at least 5 gallons of beer, it smelled a little like seaweed in the front row (I assure you that’s why there was no one sitting there), and we had some visitors. There was a guy fly fishing in waders who didn’t seem much affected by us, a duck fight which didn’t seem much affected by us, the strains of some booty shaking music from a passing party boat which affected us, and 4 or 5 planes overhead. At least one of those planes happened by at an opportune moment to heighten the effect of one of our stories. We managed to deal with the other planes. So while we didn’t affect too many of our surroundings those surroundings affected our stories and our stories affected us. At the end of it all, there was a striking full moon for those who hung out afterwards drinking beer down by the water.

We invited three past story tellers to come tell us any story that they felt like. I can’t imagine another way to have brought together a story from Anna on the personal origins of Madison Storytellers, a story from Erica about the lifetime commitment of potty training, and a story from Andy about being two things at once. Then we told some micro stories in a chain with each story inspired by the one that came before it.

We’re going to take a short break now, but we’ll be back on September 5th to partner with Madison Public Library’s The Bubbler for a Night Light event. We did one back in December and that turned out well. We think this one will too. Bring your stories in September and we know it will turn out well. Thanks for being with us this year.

So long for now.

So Long for Now by Madison Storytellers on Mixcloud

#17: Show-and-Tell

Show-and-Tell: The very best part of grade school.


While the rest of you were at the Terrace or otherwise outside we went inside for show-and-tell. And the telling was magnificent, the showing was not bad either. We showed-and-told about the importance of hair and car fights. We showed-and-told about explosions and the difficulties inherent in planning hiking trips, or inherent in us anyway. We showed-and-told about friendship. Oh boy, did we show-and-tell about friendship.

Madison Storytellers has some good news. We recently received a Dane County Arts grant to purchase some new recording equipment. This means we stopped being a club and started being a legitimate arts group! Dane county values us! We’ve made it! We’re all artists! This equipment will help us keep snatching your voice out of the air and cramming it onto the internet for others to enjoy. Our recordings get a lot of positive feedback and are a point of pride for us. They also help us share what we are all doing with the other storytelling groups across the United States. Heck, our recordings have even been featured on a national podcast. The grant is a matching grant, which means we need to raise some money. We’re asking that the next time you are at a Madison Storytellers event you throw a couple of bucks our way. For helping out we’ll record you giving a special message and stick it up on the internet because we love the way you sound.

Next month we’ll meet back at Arboretum Cohousing (you all know each other well enough now, you can call it ArbCo). At that time we can talk about Summer Vacation Stories. That seems apt.

Show-and-Tell on Mixcloud

Listen to Your Mother 3 PM on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is May 11 for all those needing a reminder.

Listen To Your Mother

Listen to Your Mother is an annual event featuring a slew of local mothers, mothers-to-be, and mother appreciators. The event was started by Ann Imig, a local blogger who gets featured around the internet. This will be the 5th year of Listen To Your Mother. There are now 32 U.S. cities joining Madison in staging this story event.

I got to ask Ann a few questions about Listen To Your Mother. Here are her replies:

Madison Storytellers: How did Listen To Your Mother start? Did you conceive and execute it all in one go or was this something that gestated for awhile?

Ann Imig: Listen To Your Mother began after I’d spent some time blogging. I wanted to bring my writing from the page to the stage, and let my real life community experience some of the vitality going on among creative parents online. Having returned from a decade living in Chicago, the logistics of putting a very simple show together in Madison seemed manageable to me–especially after Steve Sperling at The Barrymore liked my idea and let me use the theater. I executed the original Listen To Your Mother in eight weeks, with help from Stage Manager Darcy Dederich. (Eds: Here is an article with more a Listen To Your Mother.)

MS: Did you intend for Listen To Your Mother to spread out to other cities?

AI: I don’t think the idea occurred to me until I saw the success of the first show. I had the show video-recorded and posted online, and bloggers watched it and started emailing me with requests to do the show in their towns.

MS: How connected are you to the Listen To Your Mother events in other cities? Are you involved with the auditions and staging?

AI: I work as the National Director, mentoring the local cities throughout the entire process of directing and producing the show.Together with my national team (Stephanie Precourt, Deb Rox, Melisa Wells) we wrote a handbook that we provide to all cities. We host webinars, and have a very active private facebook group and weekly email blasts with the 80-plus group of local director/producers, as well as offering individual coaching. We work hard to communicate and translate the vision and the tenets of Listen To Your Mother show to our local cities, while also giving them autonomy to audition, cast, rehearse, and stage their own shows.

MS: What are you looking for during the auditions? What kinds of stories make the cut?

AI: We look for 5 minute pieces (essays or poetry) written by the reader, and that articulate a story that only that unique individual can tell specifically (rather than pieces that try to encapsulate the entire mothering experience more generally). Listen To Your Mother prizes diversity in reader and story. Most important, motherhood must serves as the star of the piece. It sounds simple, but as a parent it’s easy to write a piece you think is about motherhood, and it ends up being more about marriage, work–any number of other themes.

MS: Are there any especially memorable stories from past Listen To Your Mother events?

AI: That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child, but I will say that hearing Asmeret Yosef’s story “Don’t Give Up” (Madison, 2012–you can view it here.) of being separated from her still-nursing toddler, preschooler, and husband for 2 years while incarcerated and deported due to a CLERICAL ERROR with her immigration status moved me in a profound way–especially because she told her story with such faith and hope. That said–my favorite Listen To Your Mother moments are those that leave the audience roaring with laughter–and there are quite a few of those.

MS: What do you get from telling stories about motherhood or in appreciation of motherhood?

AI: Sharing motherhood stories can provide validation from a “me too” perspective (for people sharing similar backgrounds or experiences) and also expand perspectives and broaden understanding. At it’s core I believe sharing stories builds community.

MS: Does motherhood lend itself to storytelling? Is storytelling part of motherhood?

AI: Children provide endless fodder and inspiration, and constantly challenge our experience of who we are and what we think we know. Similarly, the mother-child-relationship is so profound it affects everyone–regardless of what your relationship is/was with your mother or caretaker. Go to any family reunion, Parent/tot playgroup, or therapy session and you will have no doubt that storytelling and motherhood go hand in hand.

#16: Quitting Stories

Stories about the things we leave behind.


Last Friday we slung some stories about things we have quit. Of course there were stories about quitting jobs and school. Who hasn’t quit a job or school? We have also quit swimming lessons (which is sort of like school), politics, and karate. We weren’t ever able to quit bingo and it took longer than we would have liked to quit karate. We won’t be quitting whiskey, women, or worry anytime soon.

Next month we’ll be reliving the best part of grade school: SHOW AND TELL. Dust off all that important stuff that you keep on a shelf because you can’t get rid of, but don’t really use. Then bring it on over and tell a story about how these things fit into your life.

Quitting Stories on Mixcloud

Next month there is another storytelling event for you to check out in town when Listen To Your Mother (LTYM) returns on Mothers Day. In two weeks we’ll have a post with an interview with the creator of LTYM, Ann Imig.

Daylong Intensive Storytelling Workshop

Unfortunately, this workshop has been cancelled due to lack of participants. Hopefully we can have a workshop in the future.

A workshop by someone who gets to tell stories for a living.

Scott Whitehair WorkshopSome local story enthusers have organized a work shop with a professional storyteller from Chicago, Scott Whitehair. Scott performs in the Chicago area and has many workshops in that area. Scott’s focus is to introduce participants to storytelling tools and techniques. Here’s the press release for the details:

This one-day intensive storytelling workshop will focus on discovering and developing your own unique voice as a storyteller. The entire process, from story generation and writing to the fine details of performance, will be covered in an engaging work-on-your-feet manner. This course is open to all experience levels, and everyone from the beginner to the seasoned storyteller is welcome.

Class size will be limited to 12 participants to ensure that all have ample opportunity to tell multiple stories, try all the exercises, and get individual feedback.

Cost: $100. Includes 10 am – 5 pm workshop, lunch, student show from 7-8:30 pm, and a class packet with all of the material covered and a high quality audio recording of your stories from the show.

Register here.
Madison contact: Kara (Slaughter) O’Connor,

If you end up going to this workshop come show off what you learned at the March storytelling event on the 28th. We’d love to hear your quitting story all shined up.

Conversations on Love


A fellow storyteller, Mallory Shotwell, has been cooking up a big ‘ol pot ‘o love. The pot is full of discourse and you can find out about it at the A Discourse on Love wordpress.

Go to the site for the seamy details, but the gist is that Mallory is “a local artist in Madison working on a community based art project to create a philosophical and artistic discourse on love.”

A large part of the project are interviews about love conducted by Mallory. You can sign up to participate in an interview here.

Later this month there will be an event at Crescendo Music Cafe on Monroe Street. The night will feature stories and other spoken pieces about love. Maybe you have a dissertation on love that you have sitting around that you want to shout at people like some mad Russian philosopher (you have recite it from memory). Maybe you have an unreceived love poem gathering dust under your mattress. Nows the time to get it out there. Mostly though Mallory is looking for stories and conversations about love. Since stories are what we’re good at we thought it would be a good idea to pass on the event to all of the fine, fine storytellers that we know. You can sign up for a time slot here.

January is shaping up pretty nicely for people who want to talk about themselves in front of microphones and hear other people talk about themselves in front of microphones. Come tell origin stories with us on the 24th and love stories on the 31st.