Amy Shephard loves to listen to stories — so much so that the Olympia actress started her own story slam.
StoryOly’s slams are held on the third Tuesday of each month at Rhythm and Rye. This Tuesday is the second slam, with the theme “ ’Tis the Season.”
Long a fan of such storytelling podcasts as “The Moth,” “Snap Judgment” and “Risk,” Shephard wanted Olympia to have its own live event.
“I kept thinking the community here would be perfect for a show like that,” she said.
It seems she was right.
The first slam, hosted by storyteller Elizabeth Lord, attracted a crowd of 60-80 people, and the 10 personal stories told by randomly selected tellers left listeners impressed.
“They were surprising and wonderful and well-told stories,” Shephard said.
“They were compelling,” Lord added. “You wanted to know what was going to happen.”
Last month’s winner, Devin Felix, will compete against future winners at a Grand Slam event planned for September 2016.
“He told about his upbringing in the Mormon faith and a rare moment of connection with his father that nearly brought him to tears,” Shephard said.
Looking to tell a story this time around? Those who want to participate just put their names in a hat, literally. The event’s website does recommend practicing your story, though. You’ll have just 8 minutes to tell it, and it needs to be true.
“The rules we use are the same ones ‘The Moth’ uses,” Lord said.
And as at “The Moth,” a New York-based nonprofit that produces radio shows, podcasts and live slams around the country, each story has to fit within a broad theme. This month’s — “ ’Tis the Season” — is meant to invite a broad range of stories.
“We want a diverse crowd and diverse stories,” Shephard said. “Everyone has a holiday story. That’s when families come together, and there’s that craziness.”
She decided to start StoryOly after the folks at “The Moth” told her they weren’t interested in hosting an event in Olympia any time soon.
“They said, ‘You should start your own,’ ” she said.
So she went looking for a venue and a collaborator.
The venue part was somewhat easier for her than it would be for some people, given that her boyfriend, Andy Geertsen, owns Rhythm and Rye downtown and was looking for more events to draw crowds on weeknights. However, she said, Geertsen did ask her to present a business plan before he agreed to host.
As for finding someone to work with, Shephard lucked out with Lord, Olympia’s best-known storyteller and an experienced organizer of theatrical events, including the Lord Franzannian Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Shaw.
“I had seen tons of her storytelling shows and always really loved them and really loved her work,” Shephard said. “When she said she wanted to be involved, I lept at the opportunity.”
Shephard, who’s currently acting, singing and dancing in Harlequin Productions’ “The Stardust Christmas Dazzle,” has told stories herself at slams in Seattle. But for now, she plans to remain mostly behind the scenes at StoryOly.
“As a person who’s on stage a lot, I get to have a lot of exposure and tell a lot of stories,” she said. “I want to be able to empower others to do the same.”
What: StoryOly presents its second story slam, with the theme “ ’Tis the Season: Haunting, Hellish and Humbuggled Holiday Stories.”
When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, and on the third Tuesday of each month.
Where: Rhythm and Rye, 311 Capitol Way N., Olympia.
Tickets: Pay what you can; $5-$10 suggested. Half of the proceeds are donated to SafePlace, which works against sexual and domestic violence.