Looking for an exciting night out in the town of West Chester full of laughter, tears, and emotion? Check out West Chester Story Slam on the second Tuesday of every month located at Side Bar & Restaurant in the heart of downtown at 8 p.m.
West Chester Story Slam is a monthly event that allows individuals to get up on stage and tell a story based off of the theme of that night. The creator and mastermind behind Story Slam, Jim Breslin, came up with the idea of Story Slam from listening to The Moth, a podcast of live stories.
Breslin tweeted to his Twitter followers and said, “I love The Moth! Does anyone know of anything like that near West Chester, PA?”
One of his followers tweeted back to him and encouraged him to be the first to create something similar to The Moth, now known as West Chester Story Slam. After the successful turnout of the first Story Slam located in Breslin’s home, he consulted Pat Ryan at Ryan’s Pub in 2010 and asked him if he could hold the Story Slam on their second floor once a month. After a couple seasons at Ryan’s Pub, the Story Slam outgrew the venue, which caused it to move to Victory Brewing Co. in Downingtown, Pa. In 2013, the Story Slam returned back to West Chester’s borough as a ticketed event at Side Bar & Restaurant.
People interested in sharing their stories show up to the event and sign a legal release form that confirms Breslin’s ability to record their performance and create a podcast to be posted on iTunes and the Story Slam website.
At each event, 10 performers share their stories with the audience in a five-minute time frame based on the theme for that night. The judges in the audience score presentations based on two criteria: content, the subject matter and its form and presentation.
The judges are looking to see if the story has an arc, a beginning, middle, and an end. The winner of the Story Slam from each month moves on to the Grand Slam, which is held in November. At the Grand Slam, the winners are competing for the title of “Best Storyteller in West Chester.”
Breslin offers a workshop that helps people who have a fear of public speaking or are not sure how to construct a story, but still feel the urge to get up on stage. He teaches the performers the five simple steps of storytelling, such as how to break a story down, use creative language, make a story stronger, and develop a first line that will catch the audience’s attention.
The Story Slam generates all different emotions: happiness, laughter, awe, and sometimes sadness. The themes range from light-hearted comedy such as getting drunk in college or having a first kiss, to serious, heart-wrenching stories such as being sexually abused as a child.
”West Chester Story Slam gives me the opportunity to make friends with people who tell all different stories,” Breslin said. “It has been great for me to get to know people on a personal level and friend them on social media.”
He added, “The Story Slam has become a community event, especially for people who are into writing, storytelling, and the arts. One of the things I truly enjoy is when people who come to the story slam just to watch, end up getting up on stage and telling an epic story themselves.”
To purchase tickets or to learn more information about the West Chester Story Slam, visit www.wcstoryslam.com.
Brianna Preziosi is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. Contact them at BP784122@wcupa.edu