Stories From The Heart Guest Blog
By Jacqui Alder
“Our life is a series of moments. These moments become our stories”
And so it was with the 4th Stories From The Heart event on the 27th November 2016 at Lazy Susan’s Comedy Den, where Lisa Evans gathered a full house of diverse souls for an evening of live storytelling, to hear heartfelt true stories on the theme of Conversation, Community, and Connection.
Ticket sales raised $1200 for RUOK?
As well as the featured speakers, audience volunteers told short ‘Pop Up Stories’ and Perth Playback Theatre treated us to a unique experience where they performed audience member stories to live music.
By the end of the night, there was a new community, connected through the storytellers’ conversations with the audience.
‘I feel changed. By sharing their stories, they shared a piece of themselves with me. By listening I’ve given them a piece me.’
Come with me to see how the night of live storytelling unfolded …
Only some connections are important.
Have you ever been ‘unfriended’ on Facebook? Sharron Attwood has been by her gardener … who stayed ‘friends’ with her soon to be ex-husband.
In ‘Hi, I’m Sharron – your permission is no longer required’, Sharron reminded us that others don’t have permission to judge us unless we give it to them. Sharron didn’t. The gardener, well, he just lost a friend and a garden!
Say yes, then make the connection.
Salome Schillack believes in saying ‘yes’ to the unknown, which is what she did when ‘invited’ on a trip from London to Paris in first class. There was one minor problem – she didn’t have the right visa.
How do you get through immigration without a visa? Do it while you’re pushing a frail elderly woman in a wheelchair and leading her cantankerous dementia-stricken husband. Oh, and make sure to add a few crocodile tears!
‘The entire event is so professionally planned and executed and Lisa is a fabulous host and MC. Thank you, Lisa, for creating this beautiful space where people can come to connect and heal through our stories. I can’t wait for the next one!’
Community support when you need it most.
Kristy Ambrose knows life can change in a heartbeat. When she started feeling sick, she pushed on. It’s just what you do when you’re a mother of two, isn’t it? Later, lying in hospital, her mother at her bedside helping her to write her will, Kristy realised pushing through wasn’t enough this time. She decided to focus on gratitude. Gratitude for small things, being able to drink a glass of water, her family, her kids, her community. Gratitude every hour of every day. Doctors can’t explain why Kristy lived. She can.
‘Loved it even though a few of the speakers made me cry! Looking forward to next one in 2017’
Pop Up Stories from those willing to share
The room held its collective breath as Lynette Delane shared her story of enriching her connection with her dying mother through conversation.
‘Lynette’s story touched many hearts that night.’
Patrick Horneman and Pete Petrich shared stories on the importance of Community.
Seemingly unrelated events connect to save a life.
In ‘One Crowded Hour’ Darrell Brown, took us on a wild ride. Starting in his wife’s Angel garden, to his son’s football match, back to the Angel garden where ‘Mum’s been attacked’ by an unseen assailant. As his wife is being tended to by passing strangers, Darrell runs to his neighbour for help: he’s concerned about elderly Ethel next door. Unfortunately, his neighbour is busy … in his car, engine running, hose attached to the exhaust. ‘Get out! We don’t have time! Ethel’s in danger!’ Together they check on Ethel, who’s making a cuppa and is bemused by the fuss. Then who? It all started in the Angel Garden. Why? Everyone is still alive.
Pop up stories come in all shapes and sizes based on one word.
How do you describe an Irishman trying to explain Cockney rhyming slang to an Australian audience? Confusing, confounding and comical! Thanks for the conversation Dave Hatton.
Can a car accident be a good thing? Yes. Jo Saunders discovered her community was larger than she realised.
Perth Playback Theatre
Imagine live improvised music, movement and dialogue bringing your story to life before your eyes. The Perth Playback team of Arlene, Nichola, Lis, Irma, Jule and Jonathan created magic by performing audience member stories, resulting in some funny and moving moments.
Community service through customer service.
What do you do when you’re 10 years old, working in a movie theatre selling confectionary and you run out of chips? If you’re Graham Harvey, you run a kilometre, buy them with your pocket money, and sell them at a loss to a very happy customer. Graham has lived and breathed customer service since he was a young boy in rural New Zealand, where he learned from the example of the local mechanic, his father.
Breaking down barriers and creating community through the arts.
Nichola Renton doesn’t look like someone who spent a year in prison. The award-winning actress and creative director of The Actors Workshop, took her scripts, masks, petticoats, and fake swords with her to Acacia Prison. A bit of an odd suitcase to pack for prison?
Not if you’re teaching 25 men to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. With their psychological armour lifted, costumes, dresses and make-up on, these men ‘gave the gift of performance’ and laughter to an audience of 100.
The men were changed; they formed a community, they supported each other, they uplifted others. Instead of living down to their past, they lived up to Nicola’s best hopes.
Connecting with the right teacher changes a life.
Have you had a teacher who made a big impact on you? Olivier Pecheur has. (Yes, he’s from France.) Her name was Madame Dianne. When Olivier struggled with reading, she would make him ‘walk the walk of shame’ to the front of the class. After telling Olivier that he was lazy and stupid, she would pinch his ear.
Olivier was lucky. His parents connected with teachers who looked at the world ‘through different coloured lenses’ and soon discovered he had dyslexia. After 6 months of proper tutoring, Olivier learned to read. No more walks of shame for him. Today he’s an Australian, is newly engaged and has his own business as a financial consultant.
‘What a fabulous evening of inspiring open-hearted stories. Thanks to each and everyone who shared, contributed, and listened. Well done Lisa Evans for creating a connected community through conversation and story.’
There the night ended. Another story made.
Stories From The Heart was founded by Perth Public Speaking and Storytelling speaking coach Lisa Evans in early 2016 as a way to combine her passion for storytelling with her desire to contribute to the community. She had a vision, ‘to empower people to step up on stage in front of a live audience and share a story from the heart to create positive change.’
That vision is now real and growing. Stories From The Heart live events create a safe, supported space where people share and listen to stories while raising money for charity. Since the first event in March 2016, over $5,000 has been raised for charity and more than 30 people have shared a story.
Many people devote their time to make these events happen. Lisa volunteers her time which includes coaching the speakers, who are also volunteers. Lisa particularly appreciates the core team of behind the scenes helpers who provide sound, lighting, and other logistical support; ‘without them, I would not be able to put an event on that is of such high standard’.
This guest blog is written by Jacqui Alder, who is a respected mentor and coach to women. Jacqui uses her writing talents to help women through her entertaining and informative blog Bitch In The City.