The Story of Us (in NW IN)

We humans are natural storytellers and story-listeners.  Yes, shelter, food and procreation are our primal instincts, but the urge to talk about all of the above is definitely next in line.  Heck, we can tell or hear a story third-hand and still enjoy it (read: gossip).

If we could harness the power of that primal story urge within our region, would that be the emotional equivalent of NIPSCO unlocking the secrets of cold fusion?

Well hold on to your fusion – cold or otherwise – ‘cause I’ve got a story for you…

A year ago I wrote an editorial for this paper about a creative and successful use of stories (see: “Why Not Create a Show Celebrating Gary’s Heritage” July 19, 2009).  I was intrigued by the idea of creating a Community Story Play in Northwest Indiana and dreamed that Jo Carson, the grande dame of the story play, would do just that for us (dream big or go home, right?).

My editorial in July of 2009 caught the eye of a relative of Jo’s, who wrote to me and later introduced me to Jo (who lives in Tennessee).  And now, Jo and her team are advising me as I hold my first meeting with leaders in our community and introduce to them the concept of the Community Story Play.

“Telling stories of community in creative and elegant ways, is the new avant garde of theatre” says Jerry Stropnicky, founding member and current Producing Ensemble Director of Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Bloomsburg, Penn and Story Play director.  I went to one of Jerry’s Story Play rehearsals.  I expected to see something on the order of Our Town, but what I witnessed was much more fresh, innovative and accessible – more like grown up Glee with a dash of NPR and Walt Whitman gracefully sprinkled around the edges.

One of my friends asked me who our audience will be for this work.  I answered that our audience is the people who join us as we plan, then the people who tell their stories, support the program, perform, and finally, the people who watch.  I hope it will be our entire region – participating through patronage as they learn more about their fellow “region-ites.”

The Story is our primal urge we can and should all share (perhaps that’s why we hold that convention so dearly).   I can barely wait to hear your stories about steel work, our lakeshore, our neighborhoods and our families, as I know no playwright ever conjured a world more rich than ours.  I’m sure we’ll find that we have so many struggles and triumphs in common and so much to hold dear in Northwest Indiana… together.

Thanks for listening to my story – I look forward to hearing yours!