By Rachel Arandilla
“WHEW,” the man on the stage started, looking at the audience as he took a deep inhale. He stopped for a few seconds and then continued. “Wow. I’m a professional theater actor, but I don’t know why I’m feeling so nervous for the first time…”
I chuckled to myself because I completely understood what he felt. I was just spectator that night, but I could totally relate to what the actor was saying. On the premiere of Story Nights, I was one of the eight storytellers.
I remember my voice quivering as I told my story. The spotlight drowned the sea of faces in the audience and that actually worsened the stage fright than anything. I thought that I was already feeling comfortable with public speaking, honed by years in the academe and the business caseroom.
Nothing prepared me for storytelling in front of 50 people.
It is entirely different when you don’t have a script to say, or a role to play on stage. You just come as you are, and be vulnerable in front of the audience. You feel completely naked and defenseless. Believe me: nothing felt more terrifying and amazing than that!
As soon I went down the stage I remember an Indian woman giving me a hug and a few more people talked to me during the break.
That wasn’t my first storytelling event, but it still had the same after-glow effect on me.
Whether I am a storyteller or a listener, I didn’t feel so lonely, afterwards. There is something so humbling and mysterious about storytelling. Most of all, it reminds you about how similar the human experience is.
Nothing is more universal than the art of storytelling. Even if we look nothing alike and even if we had very different backgrounds, it is universal to love and to lose, to be happy and to grieve.
The effect of storytelling is still strong and meaningful — almost the same as the stories our grandparents tell during the frequent electricity brown-outs in the province, almost the same as how our ancestors did it 2,000 years ago around the campfire. Even if we have new means to tell stories, and new technologies to take advantage of, nothing beats the oral tradition and the narrator’s facial expressions when a story is told.
After the event I personally met the founders of the Manila Chapter Fabio and Karl. Fabio Aromatici is an Italian expat who took Story Nights from Europe to the Philippines. Karl Alexis Jingco is also into performing arts and founded One and a Half Man Improv.
I feel my heart full after the event and was determined to start Story Nights in Cebu. Thanks to the guidance from the Manila founders, we opened up a Cebu chapter with the help of my Tribes PH co-founder. Now Story Nights is in six different cities: Bratislava, Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Chandigarh (India), Manila and Cebu.
A once-a-month event, Story Nights: Cebu is a non-profit association that aims to help grow the storytelling community in Cebu City. Aside from our live events, Story Nights hopes to share the stories is as many platforms as possible, such as here in print and in digital.
Personally, I believe we can learn something from anyone, and my ears are always open to stories from jet-setting entrepreneurs, to heartbroken poets, to Grab drivers. We believe everyone can be storytellers. Through stories, Story Nights aims to inspire others through our stories as well as to inspire everyone to be storytellers themselves.