Fri, Jan 23, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Living to tell the tale

Taipei Story Slam returns on Thursday with hilarious, humiliating and heart-wrenching tales of New Year’s resolutions and broken promises

By Dana Ter  /  Staff reporter

The idea behind Taipei Story Slam, held at Sappho Live, is for people to bond by sharing bizarre and touching personal stories.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Story Slam

Remember when you were a kid and iPhones and laptops didn’t exist? The main form of entertainment might have been going to book readings by your favorite author or writing short stories about your pet dog or a crush.

For roughly the past year, Taipei Story Slam has tapped into this innate yearning for human interaction and intellectual conversation — in other words, something intimate that goes beyond partying with strangers in a boozed-filled haze in a hot, noisy club.

For those seeking a reprieve from the club scene, Story Slam returns on Thursday at the snazzy jazz bar Sappho Live with an appropriate post-New Year’s theme of “Resolutions – Stories of Lofty Goals and Broken Promises.”

Having recently taken over the reins from Mandy Roveda, Colin Norman spoke to the Taipei Times about the concept behind the monthly events, how it has helped to bring people together and his plans to expand Story Slam to other cities and countries in the future.

Norman says Story Slam was very much inspired by live storytelling shows in the US like The Moth and Risk!. Here’s how it works: Each storyteller has seven minutes to tell a true personal story fitting with the theme of the night. They are judged by people chosen randomly from the audience, the main criteria being that the story has a conflict and resolution. Stories can either be pitched beforehand or those who wish to perform impromptu can draw slots upon arrival at the venue.

For this week, Norman says, “we want to hear about people’s incredible aspirations and their successes as well as heartbreaking failures.”


Norman believes that storytelling is not only a mechanism for the individual to make sense of their experiences and the larger world around them, but it’s also an incredible bonding experience especially for those who are new in town.

Event notes

What: Taipei Story Slam: Resolutions – Stories of Lofty Goals and Broken Promises

When: Thursday at 8pm

Where: Sappho Live, B1, 1, Alley 102, Anhe Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市安和路一段102巷1號B1).

Admission: NT$200 at the door; first drink buy one get one free

On the net:

“Sharing stories has been a part of the human experience since before recorded history began,” Norman says. “These days we have learned to communicate in bite-sized Facebook statuses and Tweets … but sometimes we need to get back to something older, more intimate, more primal.”

Audiences can expect to sit through a range of emotions on Thursday night. “The storyteller feeds off the audiences’ energy as they laugh at the funny bits, gasp at the scary parts and sit in reverential silence as the storyteller shares intimate experiences from their lives,” Norman says.

Story Slam has been especially effective in bringing together Taipei’s expat community — although this is certainly changing as more Taiwanese attend. The experience of living abroad and interacting or clashing with other cultures is in itself a great treasure trove for bizarre stories. Norman says his favorite stories so far have involved “getting stranded in foreign countries, weird visits to cults and experiences with the mafia.”

As for the future, Story Slam is hoping to expand not only to other parts of Taiwan but also to other cities in Asia. Last year, they held a competition at Spring Scream, a music fest in Kenting, and they are currently speaking to expats in Greater Kaohsiung about starting Story Slam there. Norman says they also communicating with slam poets and performers in Hong Kong and Singapore, although plans are still in the beginning stage.

For those interested, a selection of stories from Taipei Story Slam can be heard online via ICRT Taiwan Talks podcast.

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