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In The Loop "Story Slam"

Posted at 7:26 PM on July 20, 2007 by Jeff Horwich (21 Comments)

loop%20storyslam%20small.jpgThis is a page of general info. For details on a specific upcoming Slam, visit our main page.

The In The Loop "Story Slam" is a live event (and version of our show) based around the simple formula of great storytelling from anybody and everybody who wants to take a crack at it. The Smarts and I will be there as your guides through the evening, but mostly it's about whatever stories our talented audience brings to the table.

You can find and listen to past Story Slams by visiting our program archive.

If you're thinking about performing, here's what you need to know:

What should my story be about? Your story can be about anything . . . as long as it ties into that night's theme of course. Answer the call with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, a rap -- surprise us! Whether you make it funny, dry, wry, raucous, or sad, the goal is to keep the story interesting. Your job is to make the audience care, and keep them on the edge of their seats. Remember, a good story has a beginning, middle and end, with conflict and dynamic characters.

What are the rules? Well, "rules" is a little strong. But here's how it's going to work: Shoot for a performance of about four minutes max. Please don't write your story out word-for-word -- unless you plan on memorizing it completely. We're not banning notes, but if you can do without them, all the better. Spontaneity is the key, and think of it as a performance, not a reading. Listen to the earlier Story Slam broadcasts for an hour full of marvelous examples.

How do I sign up? There is no preregistration. Most of the slots will be filled by people who sign up at the event, and sign-up will start at at 6:30 pm. As the evening progresses, we'll pull names from a hat to determine the order. We'll get to as many as we can and still end the event promptly at 9:30. Anyone is welcome to throw their name in the hat, not just seasoned performers.

Is this a contest? No, not strictly speaking. There are no judges, and there will be no winner declared. But a selection of the best will be part of a one-hour broadcast on MPR.

What's with the music I hear sometimes? Some performers opted to have our band provide some background "color" with their story. This is welcomed, but certainly not necessary. If you have an idea for how the band can assist you, keep it short and clear (what kind of mood? when should they come in? etc.) and share that with them when you step on stage.

Any other suggestions? Rehearse the story a few times beforehand -- see how long it takes you. To get as many stories in as we can, we try to stick to the time limit. And a little note on language: A little profanity is OK. BUT since there is a possibility of broadcast, we will have a hard time including your story if we have to bleep every other word. Oh -- and please use only your own original material.

What makes this different from a poetry slam, or other open mic night? The key word here is "story." Spin a yarn, take us somewhere in your few minutes. What will be much less likely to make the cut for broadcast: standup routines, impressionistic spoken word performances, or political rants. You cannot bring your own band, and while some great stories may require breaking into song, we're not looking for songs.

Is everyone randomly chosen? Sometimes, especially as the Story Slam concept gets off the ground, we may invite a small number of specific people to come and tell a story. They'll always be a minority, and don't get any extra consideration in terms of which stories we select for the broadcast version.

Any questions left unanswered? Details I forgot to include here? Leave your comments below and we'll try to address them all. Hope to see you there!

Comments (21)

Can a 15 year old be part of the audience at the Bryant Lake Bowl?

Posted by Connie | May 22, 2007 6:32 PM

Of course! We are hoping to have an audience of all ages attend the show. A 15 year old is welcome to watch the show and share a story if s/he has one to tell.

Posted by Sanden Totten | May 23, 2007 11:45 AM

I'm worried that I'll prepare a great story and that there's a possibility there won't be time enough for all story tellers to present. If I come early to register, it won't matter because my name is just put in the hat and might not get pulled at all if there is a deluge of entries. Could you perhaps do some sort of a combination plan of "first come" and random selection? Perhaps something like the first x number of registrants get to present for sure. I think the event idea is fabulous! We all love stories!

Posted by SueAnn | May 25, 2007 11:24 AM

Hi SueAnn,

My name is Melissa and I am producing the Story Slam with the In The Loop team. I recognize that it would be disappointing if you work on a story and do not get your named pulled. But we do not want to do a first come first serve because it would discourage many more people than it would encourage. However, the good thing is that even if you do not get your named pulled you get to see other storytellers and learn from them, and be entertained by them as well. Also, we are hoping that this is not a one-time deal, and people could use their stories at the next Story Slam. But please, come down and put your name in, we have a lot of time and you do have a good chance of going on. Hope to see you there!

Posted by Melissa Christensen | May 25, 2007 5:17 PM

Is it okay if part of my work has been published? As this is more performance than recitation, it would not be word-for-word and I would only "borrow" from my previous work.

Thanks for doing this,

Posted by Lucie Amundsen | May 26, 2007 10:14 PM


It's fine if the work has been published before, as long as it is your own work.


The story must be original work, made up by you. I'm not sure your folk tale fits that distinction. But if you are a good story teller your half way there.


Posted by Melissa Christensen | May 27, 2007 1:58 PM

Will there be 2 mikes? Just curious, because I'd like to accompany my story with my guitar. If not, can I bring a small amp?

Posted by kate | May 31, 2007 8:08 AM


While we hope to be able to provide the means for people to accompany themselves on an instrument at future story slams, we are not going to be able to for this story slam. However, The Smarts will be happy to provide a musical bed for storytellers.


Posted by Melissa Christensen | June 2, 2007 11:11 AM

what if I brought a few musicians with me? They don't need mics because their instruments are loud enough on their own...would that be a possibility?

Posted by Allen | June 5, 2007 9:59 PM

Hi Allen,

That is not what we're going for with this slam. The Smarts are there to provide a bed that invokes a mood, if a story teller chooses to use them, but bringing musicians with you is moving into the territory of an open mic, and away from the story slam.

Thanks for your question.


Posted by Melissa | June 6, 2007 9:31 AM

Would you like people who performed last time to sit this round out to give other folks a chance?


Posted by Lucie Amundsen | August 16, 2007 8:37 AM

Hi Lucie,

We'd love for people to put their name in every time, no matter if they got on last time or not. Go ahead and put your name in the hat and give it another go.


Posted by Melissa | August 16, 2007 10:56 AM

Hi Sanden etc.
How long will we have? I can't remember if it is 4 or 5 minutes.

Posted by Katy Holmgren | August 22, 2007 11:12 AM

Hi Katy,

We're asking for about four minutes as the max.

We won't get out our ridiculously long cane and pull you off stage at four minutes but if you reach that point you should make plans to wrap up your story soon. Hope that helps! Sanden

Posted by Sanden Totten | August 22, 2007 12:44 PM

Why do you charge admission to this? After all you are getting free performance for you show.

Posted by Kirk | October 21, 2007 3:22 PM

Fair question, Kirk. Because we hold these events at outside venues, we are required by those venues to charge admission. Any money left after we cover the cost of venue itself is used to cover the additional technical costs of putting on a large, off-site production.

Posted by Jeff Horwich | October 22, 2007 12:45 PM

when will the chosen stories be rebroadcast?

Posted by Sallie Baker | October 23, 2007 3:29 PM

"Please don't write your story out word-for-word -- unless you plan on memorizing it completely."

Has this always been there? I don't remember seeing it the first time I looked over the rules. I was going to bring a short essay/story but I can't memorize it and I can't riff to save my life. Does that mean I'm disqualified?

Posted by Andy | October 24, 2007 8:21 AM

Hi Andy,

Didn't mean to scare you there. The key isn't memorization, it's live energy. If you can't riff to save your life that's fine. The reason we discourage people from reading a story word for word is because we don't want to lose the "slam" aspect to the event. But if you can read your essay off the page and still make it pop, then go ahead. As long as it's a performance and not a reading you should do fine.


Posted by Sanden Totten | October 24, 2007 12:55 PM

Is their an email or mailing list I could sign up for in which I can get advanced notice of future Story Slams?

Posted by Sheila | October 25, 2007 9:06 AM


Sure, there is a list you can get on. Simply follow this link and join the In The Loop network.

You'll hear about future Story Slam and other In The Loop events.


Posted by Sanden Totten | October 25, 2007 10:57 AM

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