I recently attended a presentation of Your Real Stories, called OFF THE WALL: A Curated Series of Storytelling. I had no idea what to expect, and certainly didn’t anticipate being moved in the manner that I was.

Established in 2011, Tampa Bay Story Days, the Bay area’s chapter of Your Real Stories, hosts monthly live performances in an intimate setting based on local stories that bridge the human experience. The event was held in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District at the ArtsXchange from 7-8:30 pm, and featured the story of a man who overcame struggles spurring from his rough childhood and flourished into a highly contributing member of the St. Pete community.

I arrived at 6:30 which allowed time to grab a glass of vino from the donation based cash bar and explore the gallery, which showcased candid photography from previous OFF THE WALL presentations. This made more sense to me after the main presentation.

OFF THE WALL is a fairly simple concept following a simple layout, which attests to the natural strength of sharing stories. Without the fussiness of set design and dynamics with multiple actors, the true story was told by one actor sitting in a chair facing the audience: most impactful due to its straightforward delivery. The man whose story it was sat with his family in the front row and listened as his life unfolded before the audience, a small but very engaged group of individuals. After the monologue, the actor, subject, and moderator convened for a discussion and Q&A. Audience members chimed in to share their similar struggles, commended the men for their openness and strength, and ask thoughtful questions. I was truly impressed with the quality of this event, down to the attendees.

The next Story Day takes place Tuesday, November 27th- same time, same place. As an artist, I was inspired to go home and make some work based on this event. As a human, I was inspired to do something good for my fellow people, and think twice about someone else’s experience before I judge. Whether you’re a creative or simply a human, you’ve got to experience Your Real Stories for yourself.

Tickets are $15 general admission / $10 for students and seniors, available for advance purchase or at the door. A donation-based cash bar with beer, wine, and snacks provides sustenance and funding for the project. The stories take place at the Warehouse Arts District ArtsXchange:
515 22nd Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33705

See you there November 27th!

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