Civic gears up for ‘real, true stories’ Saturday

Event to support auditorium

It won’t be your typical storytelling session. On March 25, a Portland-based group known as the Portland Story Theater will come to The Dalles Civic Auditorium to present a program called “Urban Tellers On the Road.”

Under the auspices of the Portland Story Theater, five “Urban Tellers” – including Portland Story Theater co-founders Lynne Duddy and Lawrence Howard, along with Leigh Hancock of White Salmon, Howard Bulick of Bingen, and Beth Rogers of Portland – will perform in The Dalles. Each individual storyteller will share a personal story live on stage.

The Dalles show will feature five unmemorized stories, each about 12 to 15 minutes long and all on a totally different theme.

“Urban Tellers shows are a potent blend of vulnerability and heart, where people tell personal stories that are always about something that matters; something that made them who they are,” explained Duddy, who serves as artistic director of the performance.

The show is sponsored by the Civic Auditorium, and funds raised by the event will go to the Civic’s operating fund.

“That’s for keeping the doors open, the lights on, and the building heated,” said Elizabeth Wallis, program manager for the Civic Auditorium. “All proceeds go to the Civic.”

An inquiry about setting up an Urban Tellers performance in The Dalles ultimately brought about this Saturday’s fundraiser.

“They contacted me,” Wallis explained. "Grants allow them to travel, and they offered to do this as a fundraiser.”

“We are happy to help out the community,” Howard said. “We wanted to do The Dalles partly because a couple of our storytellers are from the Gorge, and partly because I know the mayor of The Dalles because we used to work together in Portland.”

Mayor Steve Lawrence said Howard worked for him as a paralegal in the 1990s, and so he is familiar with the Urban Teller shows.

“This is a unique opportunity for people who like to hear good storytelling,” Lawrence said. “I have gone to their shows; these are storytellers of the first order.

“Because they have a grant, the Civic does not have to pay to bring them here. The grant allows them to go around the state and share their stories.”

Hancock, who has lived in White Salmon for nearly 25 years, said she has been involved with the Portland theater group for about three years.

“In 2014, I went to see a friend perform with Portland Story Theater,” Hancock recalled.

“By the time intermission rolled around, I knew I had to explore this cool art form. I signed up immediately, attended their four-week workshop with Lynne (Duddy) and Lawrence (Howard), and took to the stage for the first time in my life, in front of 100 people, to tell a story about wrecking a car in Africa.

PST does a unique form of personal storytelling, where the primary goal is to find and share the true heart of each story.”

Both Hancock and Bulick participated in a Portland Story Theater workshop in 2014 called “the Art of Personal Narrative.”

“They were chosen (for the show in The Dalles) because they are wonderful storytellers, and it just seemed natural to include them since they are already out in this region,” Howard said.

“Each person will tell a true, personal story on a topic important and meaningful to them; a transformative event in their lives.”

Saturday’s storytelling event is scheduled to run from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Civic, which is located at 323 E. Fourth Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, with attendance limited to those 18 and over due to the mature content of the stories.

“Light appetizers and refreshments are included in the ticket price, and we'll have beer and wine available for sale,” added Wallis.

The show will be in the Fireside Room, which seats 70.

“We’d love to see everybody at the show,” Howard said. “We’re very excited to bring the show to The Dalles, and hopefully we’ll fill up the house. We’re happy to support the Civic Auditorium.”

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