The story begins: When Norah Dooley, Andrea Lovett and a few other storytellers co-founded massmouth inc. 3-1/2 years ago, they wanted the Boston community to learn that storytelling was an adult activity, not just reading stories to children. As a startup venture, Norah took to the streets of Boston with her band of storytellers — telling stories on street corners and cafes, and inviting people on the street to Mouth-offs, telling their own stories. Soon Story Slam competitions were held in Boston pubs.
Committed to using digital media, massmouth adopted the use of Evoca to attract storyteller auditions and to stream audio stories on their website and Facebook fan page. massmouth is committed both to serving the local Boston area and to spreading stories worldwide using online technologies like Evoca and YouTube. Norah refers to Evoca as “really an amazing tool.” Hear more in the Norah Dooley interview by Murem Sharpe, Evoca CEO, about the heartening massmouth story and about how Evoca’s affordable digital audio services empower Boston storytellers voices locally and globally.
The story continues: massmouth’s early appeal grew rapidly, resulting in its first city-wide event at the renown Boston Public Library, filling its 350-seat Rabb Auditorium with an audience spilling out to the hallways. It has grown to the 1st Annual Boston Storytelling Festival in 2012, free to all participants and packed with performances and workshops. To raise funds for massmouth’s outreach programs in area high schools, Nora Dooley and her team took the risk of renting the popular 440-seat Coolidge Corner Theater to sell tickets to the Greater Boston Story Slam. It was a roaring success! massmouth’s workshops for immigrant children have been especially effective. The workshops have enabled high school students from other countries to get validation that their stories are important and interesting to others.
In the words of Rachel Simon, Spring 2012 intern for massmouth and senior at Lesley College majoring in Creative Writing: “ Storytelling, to my previous understanding, was a way to recount a funny event or a family’s history. After interning here at massmouth, I’ve come to acknowledge that telling stories is much more than that. It is a way to accept the past and move forward. It is a way to realize that everyone has a story, even if you think you don’t.”
She adds, “I also think that telling stories should be a continued tradition. Without storytelling, there would be no stories. Oral storytelling began the tall tales, the myths, and the eventual written word. Without it, we would not have poetry or books, and we probably not a have a need to recognize the importance of storytelling here at massmouth. I find that our story slams and high school workshops are really valuable; they are a tool to express the importance of storytelling. The importance of storytelling is a clear cycle; it continues the oral tradition of relaying experiences, myths and every day events.”
Leslie has discovered that without storytelling “… we would not have books or films or television. Without a way to express ourselves, we would be without words. Storytelling affects everything from the way we think to the way we recount an event that happened earlier in the day. Our programs at massmouth enforce this from the workshops we have at various high schools to the workshops we have for adults about how to tell a good story in a short amount of time. Storytelling also brings together people who may not have realized they share similar backgrounds or life experiences. Watching that connection is such an amazing thing to see, showing people that they share more things in common than they previously thought.”