Sold-out Show Raises Scholarships and the BarSome stories and appreciations
by Violet Maxfield, Bruce Marcus and Norah Dooley
photos by: Paula Junn
|View from the back: Coolidge Corner Theater - SRO crowd listens to stories April 11, 2012|
What an awesome production the BigMouthOff was...
by Bruce Marcus
What an awesome production the BigMouthOff was. This organization has fully matured in 3 seasons... From the video projections behind the stage (slide show of season III slams at the beginning, the UNOBTRUSIVE clock projected ABOVE the contestants, and BELOW in a monitor before them & the slides promoting wonderful upcoming events at the end), to the tightly-produced program by Karen Given (radio journalist & executive producer of NPR's Only a Game), the superb hosting by NPR's Tony Kahn (Morning Stories, Says You!), the luminous 3-judge panel, the manageable number of well-prepared & awesome finalists & guest tellers (esp. last year's winner Ben Cunningham) & the open-to-the-audience one-minute free-for-all on the theme "Wrong Turn", this was the most impressive event put on by massmouth yet. It was the first slam season finale where tickets needed to be purchased, the previous two having been held at the BPL. The build up of audience & new tellers has been steady, & the sold-out 440-seat theater very telling of the positive direction massmouth has been taking storytelling in the greater Boston area.
If you were there, you know what I'm talkin' about. If you weren't, you missed somethin'.
storyteller, feature, emcee and organizer at Story Space
The 2012 BigMouthOff
by Violet Maxfield
On April 11th massmouth,inc held a very impressive 2012 Big Mouth Off to finish the season off with a bang, and, in my opinion they did just that. Tony Kahn was the extraordinary host and our “Master of Ceremonies”. Tony is best known for collecting “unforgettable stories from everyday people” as founder and host of WGBH’s Morning Stories. Celebrity guest judges for the evening included international master storyteller Jay O’Callahan, author of Harry’s The Man and Brian O’Donovan, host of A Celtic Sojourn on WGBH. Our third judge was Kerri Schmidt, a visual artist and storyteller/literacy trainer at Read Boston. And the co-host was Karen Given, who is a radio producer at WBUR’s , Only A Game who has told slam-winning stories in two seasons. She kept things moving. Other people who came up in between performers to tell short stories while the judges scored were producers and hosts of story slams throughout the season; Bruce Marcus, Laura Cannon and Robin Maxfield. Our featured storyteller was last year’s winner of the 2011 slam series, Ben Cunningham who is a writer, educator and poet. He has become a favorite presenter and teacher with StoriesLive® In my opinion this particular group of tellers were some of the best I’ve ever seen and this is my third BigMouthOff and I have been to dozens of massmouth story slams. You could tell that the contestants all really spent a lot of time practicing and polishing their stories, so that by the time each one of them came on stage it was like magic. The connection between the tellers and the large audience was as strong as ever. I thought the winners; Regi Carpenter in first place, Jannelle Codianni awarded second, and Mary Hannon as third place winner were all 100% deserving of their awards. And we were even more sure of that after seeing the audience votes - they would have won, 1,2,3 if the audience made the final decision too. After hours of counting and recounting the audience’s votes, our BMO 2012 Audience Choice winner was (by a large margin, too) Lisa Foley. With so many good stories, I believe the judges still probably had a very hard time trying to make their final decision. Yet, at the end of the night I think all the participants left feeling satisfied.
Ben Cunningham, 2011 BMO winner
storyteller, singer and songwriter
Filling in a few details...by Norah Dooley
|High School slam, April 28th 2012|
The 15 stories at BMO 2012 were from various slam venues and themes, from Lowell to Quincy, and from Somerville to Cambridge to JP. Most of the stories were judged entries and 20% of the stories were Audience or massmouth Choice entries. We aim to be inclusive, open and spread the joy of good stories, told live. Below is a snippet of each story in the order of their telling:
Tori Piskin was "shell-shocked" Finding a 5'10 girl wearing glittery bootie shorts, passed out in a wheel chair in her living room sure was shocking. - Scott Schultz performed a story for the first time at "gifts"-When Scott was five, his great-grandfather told him he got a horse that he was raising in the basement.- Regi Carpenter (1st place) also told her story from theme "shell- shocked" Snap! Have you ever lost your mind and found it again in the least likely of places? -Lizi Brown first brought her first performed story to the "cupid" slam. Her partner always boasted she had Lizi’s clothes off in less than five minutes of meeting…-Mary Hannon ( 3rd place), "shell-shocked" us. There are some things you can't take a vacation from; parenting and teaching about love are but two. -Lisa Foley ( Audience Choice) told this tale at "stupid cupid" What can you expect from Match.com? - Justin Werfel rolled in on a "wheels" story about his long ride on a new, giant unicycle. Sounds like a fun idea, right? - Josh Whiton also a first-time teller, won at the "emergency" slam telling about his girlfriend, home alone, her emergency call and and how teenage Josh swung into action. We had a brief break in the contest for judges to think and for the audience to breathe...as
|The BMO 2012 contestants|
We resumed as Jannelle Codianni (2nd place) also reflected on the ways of love using "cupid" as a theme. She told how she had moved out of a relationship, and into a car. - Jackson Gillman told his story at "gifts"-He gifted a friend with etymology, a button, and an accompanying story about a sacred dance.- Hal -Miller-Jacobs connected very personally to theme "emergency" and on the tenth anniversary of that horrific day in history, Hal told ‘Thinking of Paul on 9-11’’ at Doyle's. -David Sullivan, from Lowell, showed "where–I-am-from" as he told about how he forged his mother’s signature and his assistant principal father gave him a more-than-he-bargained-for verbal tirade.-Dan Dahari, "pranked" big time back in the day and showed how playing into the stereotype of reckless youth and deviant miscreant can make for a rollicking time.- Brendyn Schneider reflected on early "college dayz". In his freshman year of college, he learned how really close “home” was. - Last but not least, Abhishek Shah took the theme "genesis" and showed how a “thought” about eating beef for the first time, a conversation with his mother and then his brother started something new.
Thanks and more thanks:
Because Coolidge Corner is a movie theater they need to ooze us out as quickly as possible to get the next show running. We thank them, especially Jesse Hassinger and Mark for their patience and technical support. This time constraint also means that we needed to condense our thanks and acknowledgements. Here is the start of an expanded and probably incomplete thank you:
First, we are ever grateful to all the people who bring their stories on the themes to share with us. This is a contest of "story" and without the voluntary and courageous entries of all the 100s of storytellers, there would be no gala culminating event. You storytellers make it happen!
On the day, we owed big thanks to Karen Given and Tony Kahn for timing, crafting and executing the minute to minute schedule and to Hannah Lapuh, administrative assistant who went above and beyond more than once. Thanks are also due to Bambi Good, who acted as Clerk of Court for the BigMouthOff, 2012 and has been a part of the slams since the very beginning and to Gina Mittal who was the Chief Justice at Doyle's all season and beyond.
Where would we be without Sveva Prince? Over three years ago she offered us a very lovely 1st prize to help us attract a new audience to storytelling. In doing so Sveva set our larger slam scene into high gear. Her continued generosity is deeply appreciated. Amanda Nash and her hospitality at The Inn at Magnolia is magnificent and we are much obliged to Doug Lipman for his generous prize of coaching. Paula Junn has been our photographer for two fabulous seasons and her work moves our mission forward in so many ways. Lesley University sends us interns and this semester, Rachel Simon ( Lesley U '12) has been a huge help. Last but not least, are all those who listen and also help with logistics: from checking in ticket holders, to time keeping, to judging, to blogging, to posting, editing, printing and leafleting; from videography to photography, to writing press releases, to calling, emailing and calling again, and calling and emailing AGAIN, to coordinate it all... yeah, it kind of takes a whole village to 'raise' this event. These 'village people' were led by co-founder and storyteller, Andrea Lovett, chief coordinator of the slam season. Thank you all!
And finally - If you missed this event please join us for the scholarship slam or a slam at Doyle's or what we intend to be the 1st Annual Storytelling Festival at Boston Public Library in Copley Square, Boston - all day on April 21st 2011.