The tales were diverse, but the theme of feeling foolish ran through them at the Valley Players second annual story slam last weekend.
The Valley Players inaugurated the story slam last year and it was held virtually with this year’s show live at the theater on Main Street in Waitsfield.
Emcees Doug Bergstein and Susan Loynd explained that the storytellers had been to two workshops with Sue Schmitt from the Moth who helped them curate their stories. There were two participants from the audience as well.
Shevonne Travers, Waitsfield, opened the show with some important advice that she follows today -- never give the finger to a semi-truck driver. The genesis of that knowledge came from moving across the country with her then husband in a Ryder truck with a child and pets while she followed in a car. Along the way, she noticed a truck tailgating her. She flipped off the truck driver after being tailgated, leading to the truck driver stopping her and telling her “Lady, don’t you know, you never give a truck driver the finger.”
Susan Loynd, Fayston, adopted the identity of a pregnant woman in labor in order to crash a conference and –- being an actor -- took on that role for the conference, emailing her colleagues that she’d crashed the event and was now Lindsay, the woman in labor. Her colleagues got into the role playing, emailing her about baby registries and maternity leave. She took that story to her friend Caroline as she was in hospice, initially uncertain about telling her dying friend the tale, despite their history of telling stories to make each other laugh. Caroline was game to hear about it and stalked the real Lindsay online and they laughed until their stomachs hurt.
Wendy, an audience member from Middlesex, whose last name was not shared, regaled the audience with the story of her blind, Palestinian friend Layla with whom she shared adventures, mishaps and a hiking trip to Vermont where they climbed Mount Abe and had to descend during thunder and lightening.
Dennis McSorely was up next with a tale of his larger-than-life mother who made him a full body cat suit which he wore for Halloween when he was in fifth grade. Expecting to feel foolish, he was surprised to find that he was a hit and people wanted to pet the cat.
He quoted a T.S. Elliot poem from 1937 about a possums’ practical guide to cats and then the creation of the musical “Cats” in 1987. It made him hearken back to his mother and how she didn’t care what others thought and her verve. He said he realized that he owes his current propensity for theater to her -- and the cat suit.
Marcy Robinson, Warren, followed with a tale of teenage antics that went awry when she and her friends decided to sled down Smuggler’s Notch at night. She and her friend’s boyfriend were on a sled meant for one person, not two, when a crash ended their forward momentum and landed her in the hospital with spinal and internal organ injuries and subsequently a body cast and more.
Hot tubs entered the conversation when Marcy’s sister-in-law Charlotte Robinson, Warren, recalled how she found herself naked on the deck huddled under the overhang hiding from school kids cross-country skiing nearby, holding a beer that was getting colder by the minute.
Another audience member, Carrie, took the stage to tell both a hot tub and a sledding story and to poke fun at her husband who used their landlord’s clothing-optional hot tub.
Erika Nichols-Frazer, Waitsfield, followed to tell how her quest for adventuring and travel ended up with her spending the night in a Brussells’ jail cell, having run afoul for a real or bureaucratically complicated issue with passports and a student visa. After she maxed out her credit card on a plane ticket back to New York, she was escort by four armed guards, and secured on the plane with her passport in a lock box!
Wes Olds closed the show with a tale of junior high crushes and poetry and a sadistic sixth-grade teacher. Watch the show on MRVTV.com or https://youtu.be/7ie4H_fg0vE.