Fresh Ground Stories is an open-mic event for telling true, personal stories on stage at Roy Street Coffee & Tea. Each month I choose a different theme and the stories should in some way reflect that theme.
Shows are held once a month at Roy St Coffee and Tea on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 7pm. Anyone who wants to tell a story should put their name in the Mr. Coffee carafe and I’ll draw names as we go.
The show is 90 minutes long so I can’t guarantee that everyone will get to tell. If you don’t get your name called you can probably rework your story slightly to fit into another month’s theme. I make the themes broad so you can do that.
Everyone is welcome to just come and listen, but if you want to tell a story (and I hope you do) here’s what you need to know. The rules are important for a lot of reasons so please don’t ask if you can break them.
If you aren’t sure if your story is ok to tell at FGS please write me before the day of the show. There’s always a chance that with a few small changes that you can tell it. Thanks for understanding.
At the bottom of these guidelines, there are links to other shows where your story might be a perfect fit.
1. Story must be true and have happened to you. The story should also mean something to you. We’re looking for stories that tell us something about yourself. Not every story has a moral but there should be something in there that tells us why the story is important to you and maybe how its shaped your life or your beliefs about something. It doesn’t have to be serious. Funny stories can be just as meaningful as sad ones.
2. Keep it under 8 minutes. Shorter is better so we can get more people onstage. We run from 7:00-8:30 and I try to end it on time.
3. No notes onstage. Trust me, it’s always better to tell the story naturally. Practice in your living room, the car, the bathroom, wherever. Tell it to friends and family, or that guy on the bus. Whatever it takes to remember it.
4. Practice out loud. It’s more helpful than running over it in your head. Also, consider timing yourself. Eight minutes is the max and if you go long I have to take time away from someone else.
5. Know your last line first. The best advice I ever got for storytelling was to know the last line of your story before you start telling it. The last line should be something that wraps everything up and gives the story meaning.
6. Sharing is more important than performing. Don’t worry about turning your story into a performance. Tell the story as if you were in the living room with friends. Great stories come from a place of humility and vulnerability. That doesn’t mean they can’t be funny and lighthearted. Most of the stories at FGS are very funny but they’re more self-deprecating than what you hear at a comedy show.
7. You need to keep your story clean. We are in a public place and not everyone is there for the show. No stories about sex or genitals, and no cursing or sexual innuendo. I know that stuff is funny but it’s not worth the risk of someone in the coffee shop complaining. There are lots of other places to tell those stories and you can find a link to them at the end of these rules. Most other topics are fine. We’ve had stories of death, loss, suicide, heartbreak, mental illness, abortion, and human trafficking. All of these topics are fine as long as you tell them with honesty and vulnerability while leaving out your social commentary. Trust me on this. I know it feels good to end your story with a rant but that’s not what this show is for.
8. No speeches, political opinions, or social commentary. Those are all great things but FGS isn’t the place for them. This isn’t a town hall meeting. If your goal is to get people to do something (tear down the government, join a church, boycott Lithuanian walnuts, etc) then this show isn’t right for you. Opinions separate people and stories bring us together. Even if I and everyone else in the room agree with your worldview, FGS isn’t the place for telling us about it. We get enough of that on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else on the internet. FGS is where we get to take a break from it.
9. If you put some thought into it you can tell a story about almost any subject. Choose your words carefully. I know it’s hard but it will be worth it. The audience will appreciate it and more importantly Roy Street Coffee will appreciate it. They let us use their room for free and if we upset their customers we won’t have a show anymore.
10. Stay on the stage. Please don’t leave the stage area and walk through the audience. It works in a comedy club but not at a storytelling show.
11. Don’t plug your own show, website, blog while you’re onstage. If people like your story they’ll talk to you afterward and that’s when you can give them that information.
12. Get there early to put your name in the Mr. Coffee Carafe. Use a white slip if you’ve told at FGS before or a yellow slip if you’re a first-timer.
13. Just because something isn’t listed in the rules doesn’t mean it’s ok for you to do. I have the final say in how the show is run and what I allow on stage. I hate to write this last rule but every now and then someone wants to argue over how I run the show so I finally had to write this stuff down in black and white. If you’re unhappy with any of these rules I will encourage you to attend one of the other wonderful storytelling shows in the area. Thanks for your cooperation.
Links to other shows or workshops in the area where you can tell stories: