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© Allison Usavage

Trampoline

Trampoline is a monthly competitive storytelling event at Lot 10. Filled with laughter, bravery, foot-stomping drumrolls and your drinks of choice, this event brings people from across our community into a democratic and warm opportunity to perform.

A Q&A with Bob Proehl, creator and host of Trampoline. Photos from February’s ‘Ex-Files’ themed event.

 

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What is Trampoline?

Trampoline is a competitive storytelling event that has been going on here at Lot 10 for three years now. It is modeled on things like The Moth and First Person Story Slam in Philadelphia.

 

© Allison Usavage

 

Who is it good for?

We’ve drawn a wide demographic. We’ve had high school kids and senior citizens that have gotten up and told stories. We’ve done an event at each of the colleges. What’s really nice about it is that it’s a participatory event but it’s not something you have to necessarily prepare for. It’s really great when people, after seeing half of an event, are willing to get up and tell a story themselves. It’s designed to encourage the audience to be as participatory as they can be, whether they’re telling stories or spectating.

 

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What kind of change are you trying to make?

I am trying to create an event that is more participatory, that isn’t just an audience-and-performer type event. Something that keeps an audience engaged, that brings an audience on stage. Something that is certainly more democratic than going to a rock show or going to see a DJ, but it’s even more than something like a poetry slam or an open mic, because you can, in the middle of one of these, decide that you have a story and get up there. That kind of engagement is really unique.

 

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How did it start?

It started when this place opened. Matt approached me about trying to do some programming that wasn’t DJ-based. I actually went to Philly to the First Person Story Slam and participated to see how their format went and to know what it felt like to get up on stage and perform a story… I was woefully unprepared. Anyway, they were really great and helpful in getting me set up, and theirs is the model that we used.

 

© Allison Usavage

 

What impact does this have on the community?

The immediate effect is on the participants. There’s something really empowering about performing and recognizing the worth of your own narrative and sharing that in a room.

We had someone who became one of our regular storytellers, who was one of our champions at the end of the year. She was fantastic. I came to find out that she had a very severe stutter and that this, getting up there and telling stories in front of an audience, was a huge deal for her and incredibly panic-inducing. She got up and did it and just killed it! It’s helped her move herself forward as a writer and has really helped her confidence. It’s a thrill for people to be able to get up there and tell a story and the audience is always incredibly warm and incredibly receptive.

 

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How has the community supported the event?

By attendance! Also, The Freeskool has been really supportive. They’re going to be running a class on storytelling and structuring stories with the goal being for this format. We do a 5-minute format, which is just one form of telling a story. I’m really interested in seeing what happens with that.

 

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What struggles have you encountered?

The fact that it’s freezing here six months out of the year. I feel very justified in saying that weather and the wrath of god have been major obstacles for the event because the building was, in fact, hit by lightning during one of our shows.

 

© Allison Usavage

 

What should we be celebrating?

One thing to be celebrated is the ability to overcome things and the fact that you can reflect even on a very negative experience and have the positive come out of it. We see a lot of that here. Stories about things that you just imagine that while they’re happening were the worst thing ever, and now they’re something that that person can smirk at and tell the group.

 

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How can we participate?

Show up! Even if it’s not showing up with a plan to tell a story, showing up and being open to the idea of it. That would be the big one. Come by and check it out.

 

Learn about next month’s event at facebook.com/trampolineithaca.

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