Story and photos by Cole Sarar.
Sunday night at the Bryant Lake Bowl, the Rockstar Storytellers reconvened for the second installation of this season’s monthly “bookcase” themed shows. For the month of October, the Rockstars tackled the horror genre. Storytelling as a spoken word style has some typical components, namely that the stories are true stories that star the storyteller as its main character. The Rockstars as a group push the boundaries of storytelling in those ways, as well as in how they tell their stories. Among the Rockstar Storytellers are comedians, a slam poet, a travel writer, a playwright/actor, and who knows what else. The horror installation of the Rockstar Storytellers’ bookcase shows also proved that they would push the boundaries of what we think of as “horror”.
Hosted by the adorable Laura Bidgood, the show featured four of the Rockstars with special guest Rob Callahan. Bidgood treated the audience to the most awful Halloween themed jokes your humble narrator has ever heard, and will not repeat, for fear I end up in the same circle of hell as the charming Bidgood. It takes some great stage presence and perhaps the sale of one’s soul to have garnered so many laughs and pleased groans as she did. Her adorable North Dakotan accent can’t have hurt, either.
The first story of the night was the recounting of childhood dabblings in the occult by Amy Salloway. Reminiscent of the life of many young girls whose latent psychic powers have gone unnurtured by their mothers (as so many of us were), the story was thick with dramatic irony and questions we adults so often neglect to ask. For example: “Did Hasbro actually manufacture individual spirits into the Ouija board?” And what should you do with your last 28 days, before Odin, the spirit from the golden nail in the board’s planchette, claims you and your best friend’s twelve year old souls?
The second story of the evening featured guest Rob Callahan, who obviously took great pleasure in recounting details of insect takeovers of the central nervous system, spiders laying eggs underneath the skin of humans, before finally getting into his story. Callahan obviously has many guilty pleasures as a storyteller, including implanting the elements of a Clue murder slowly into an initial scene of the story. The story was likely the most “straight” horror story of the evening, balancing the probable delusions of a paranoid conspiracy theorist against the actual plot of spiders to take over the brain stems of men and women everywhere. The disgusting conclusion to the story was deliciously up the horror story alley.
Ben San Del took the third story into nebulous storytelling/theatre territory, with the dialogue between a dialogue between a suicidal man on the fifth floor ledge of a building and the kindly old janitor inside. The story was of a young man who’d developed the power of telekinesis for all of one minute only to lose it and find his life not worth living. With San Del’s trademark dorky, awkward humor, the story left the audience on a cliffhanger. Or, a ledge hanger, as it were. But, the next time you find yourself questioning your reasons for living, remember that you have yet to see the thrilling conclusion of Lost.
Mike Fotis followed with the sort of charming story of a roadtrip gone wrong where the audience cringes in anticipation of the horrors which will ultimately befall the young people stranded in rural parts of America. “You’re only an atheist because you’re a vegetarian and write poetry!” Fotis sputters in recollection of a religious argument, leaving me wondering- if this were a horror movie, which of the ill-fated characters will get killed first? The godless atheist? Or would the atheist be spared for his tofu-eating ways? We may never know, because the wild-eyed tow-truck driver was not the maniac we imagined. Fotis is a charming storyteller, doubtlessly, but this piece ends abruptly, and maybe Fotis might lie to us a little bit next time, a soybean monster to chase his godless friend, something, if we ask nicely.
Closing out the night was Allegra Lingo, with what can really only be described as choreographing words to classical music, something that may be becoming Lingo’s trademark gimmick. A piece about a descent into madness through lack of sleep, this piece worked really well, and even incorporated Hamlet’s soliloquy. Not exactly what we’d imagine as a horror story show, but pleasing, and as challenging to genre as we’re coming to expect from the Rockstars.
November 1st will be the Rockstars’ night for Western and War stories, it’ll be interesting to see what frontiers they will explore, what battles they will fight. As always, the Bryant Lake Bowl is a great venue, and a great fit for the Rockstars.