Storytelling Review: You’re Being Ridiculous, February 3, Steppenwolf Theatre

So, as I age (or, as I prefer to call it: “ripen” or “mature”) I have found myself widening my cultural interests from music to theater and, most recently, storytelling. Why? I hear you ask. Thanks for asking! Let me tell you: So, two main things I love about going to music shows are:

1) Lyrics. Clever, eye-opening lyrics can open minds and eyes and make you question your conception of narrative and connotation. One of the frustrating things about songs is the inability to ask the singer what a specific lyric means or how the song-writer came up with it.
2) The freedom the audience has to react however they want. When you go to a show, you have people singing along, clapping, closing their eyes, laughing, crying – you name it and there’s one in the crowd. I love this variety of reaction – so unlike something like a stand-up show where there is one acceptable reaction: laughter. And if that doesn’t happen, everyone feels uncomfortable.

Two main things I don’t love about going to music shows are:
1) People on their phones. I HATE realizing I’m looking at the stage through someone’s iPhone who’s recording it as opposed to actually watching the show.
2) Standing.

Enter… storytelling! This amazing artistic exercise combines all my favorite things: clever wordplay that is then elaborated upon and explained in great and gripping detail; audiences who snap, close their eyes, “mmhmmmm,” laugh out loud, cry, wave their hands, etc; MCs who forbid phone usage and mean it, and comfortable seats! I highly recommend it.

If you are in Chicago, I highly recommend it at Steppenwolf. This amazingly curated venue is intimate, creative, perfect for a first date, offers beautiful cocktails, a full coffee and pastry bar, and sparking water on tap (!). The staff are impeccable, the stage set up is welcoming, and the audiences are diverse and friendly. I really can’t praise this place highly enough.

I found this amazing venue through its “You’re Being Ridiculous” storytelling performance as part of its LookOut Series. The show Saturday night included 9 talented storytellers who regaled the audience with short but super memorable stories ranging from tear-jerkers to laugh-out-loud tales. Topics included:

1) Procrastination as denial of fear – and a way to push yourself to try new, unexpected things
2) An ode to breasts
3) Suicide and the power of family and laughter to bring survivors through it together
4) The terror of substitute teaching 4th graders
5) A husband-wife rendition of how they met (very different interpretations!)
6) Tales of life-changing surgery
7) The highs and lows of gay Jews vacationing in Boca Raton, FL
8) My favorite: a tear-jerker on the power of letting go.

The stories made me laugh, cry, learn, question, and start conversations I otherwise would never have dreamed of having. And the small venue allowed us to walk right up to the talented narrators and hug, high-five and praise however we wanted to. It really was an incredibly powerful night and I’m so glad I was there.

My storytelling pales in comparison to what you’ll see when you try this out – so go! Please! Whether a narrator or a listener, you’ll come away richer.

Posted on by halley in Reviews, Theatre