Thursday, October 18, 2012

The first Story Slam in Hungary!

Well, technically, the second. The first one was in September.
Now that we have had two, and the second one bigger and more successful than the first, we can officially announce that the story slam movement of Hungary has begun!

I am so incredibly excited about this I can't even put it to words. I am over here in the US of A, and yet, I get to be a part of another great moment in Hungarian storytelling history. Go figure.

Here is how we do the slams, for those of you who are interested in comparing notes:

1. Every month we have a theme (the first one was "bawdy", the second "antique", and next month it is going to be "twilight", no pun intended)

2. Every month we have a featured guest (first it was master storyteller Berecz András, next Dr. Németh György, everyone's favorite Classics professor who can fill an auditorium at 8am on a Monday)

3. First, the featured guest has 30-45 minutes to tell some stories and break the ice, while everyone else drinks and enjoys the show

4. Then, we draw names from a hat, or, in case we lack enough names, we mercilessly bully the audience until someone gets up to tell

5. Audience votes for the best at the end, and we pass a hat around for donations that become the winner's prize

6. Stories has to be personal and relatively true (although at this point our people need some training because this is a difficult concept for Hungarian storytellers to grasp, through non-storytellers got it just fine)

As I have said, personally I did not attend the slams (even though I am rapidly developing spontaneous teleportation skills, I'll keep you posted on my progress). I had to ask people over chat and Skype and Facebook to tell me about their experiences, and I have gathered a lot f second-hand knowledge and positive feedback. Despite all my worries and doubts, slams seem to appeal to Hungarian audiences just like they appeal to everyone else. Yay!

The success of the slam genre fascinates me, by the way. I can't quite put my finger on it. Is it the competition? Is it the setting? Is it the real life, uncensored personal stories? (the latter needs a nudge, we still have people showing up and telling folktales, but they at least show up, and tell, and that is what counts!) Whatever it is, people seem to like it, and we had folks in the audience who would not have shown up for traditional telling.

We hope to keep going with the slams, and make them a chain of events that leads up to the Holnemvolt Festival. The plan is to have a mini-slam during the weekend of the festival in April where the winners of the monthly slams can perform for everyone's fun. Traditional telling and personal stories will come together to make a more diverse, and, hopefully, more popular festival.

In the meantime, I will be sitting here once a month, waiting for the photos, videos and feedback to come in. I will keep you posted!

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