Story Collider Gives a Personal View of Science (4.5 stars)
by Johnny Monsarrat
Story Collider is a storytelling event that tours the country with live personal stories of science and scientists. You take a seat at the intimate and comfortable Oberon in Cambridge, where every seat has a table to rest your drink, and watch while performers on stage simply tell their personal stories to the crowd.
The show is equally divided between professional speakers, who really know how to move an audience, and amateurs whom you root for in the same way that you root for an improv comedy team. What they’re doing is difficult and brave, deserving of cheer.
Hosts Christine Gentry and Ari Daniel introduce the acts and tell short stories in-between the 10-minute sets. The stories change with every show, and this night I found them touching, original, and most of all, personal. It was clear that each performer’s heart was in the show.
Half the speakers were laugh out loud funny, and the others had a more dramatic tone. I learned about inseminating cows, prematurely born babies, and whales that jump out of the water. One speaker nearly died on a boat, another nearly lost his way to heroin, and another got bit by a huge monkey.
The show was good but not perfect. Some speakers knocked it out of the park, and others did not have a scientific insight or comment on human life worthy to make up for an amateur telling. Storytellers did not have headset or handheld microphones, limiting their body language to keep in front of a mic on a stand, which in the case of the amateurs may have contributed to a lack of vocal range. Some speakers rambled or complained in a way that lacked empathy. Each introduction to a new speaker could have set up the forthcoming deeply personal story, but instead the hosts gave movie spoilers.
Christine Gentry and Ari Daniel kindly agreed to an interview after the show.
Events INSIDER: What should people expect at your show?
Christine Gentry: I think they should expect approximately 10-minute storied, very personal stories that people are telling either about how science has affected their lives, or about the way that they’ve brought their personal life into their work in science.
Ari Daniel: It’s a wide range of stories that cross different emotional ranges and topics, but we get both scientists and non-scientists on stage.
Events INSIDER: It’s not all comedy, but it’s not all drama.
Ari Daniel: That’s right. If folks want to check out what the show is like, they can listen to the podcast at storycollider.org.
Christine Gentry: Boston, LA, San Diego, and then we have a lot of traveling shows for conferences.
You’ll enjoy Story Collider if you understand that it’s a mix of comedy and drama, and that you’re there to bond with the performers, and to support them, especially the new ones. I’m glad to give it 4.5 stars. You may even find yourself, like me, wanting to tell your own story!
Their next show in Boston is Tuesday, September 13. See www.storycollider.org.