BAR HARBOR — When you ask for stories on the theme “Dark and Stormy,” you never know what you’re going to get. There could be one about herding sheep, or a memorable ride on a Greyhound bus, or maybe the Vinalhaven ferry.
A project launched this fall by Anchorspace, Jack Russell’s, the Jesup Memorial Library and the Criterion Theatre to celebrate local stories presents its finale, an Island Story Slam Championship, at the Criterion on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15.
Story slams, competitions in which performers tell short, true, personal stories without notes, have been gaining popularity. The Jesup Memorial Library and Southwest Harbor library have been hosting monthly story slams for some time.
The collaboration has been in the works for nearly a year, said Nicole Ouellette of Anchorspace. “The Criterion approached me and Nina St. Germain; they wanted to do a big event of local stories.” Ouellette and St. Germain interview local residents for their podcast, “My Desert Island,” so they were asked to help facilitate a story series to be held in several Mount Desert Island communities.
“I’m a middle child and a former bartender, so there’s nothing I love more than getting people together and hearing a good story,” said St. Germain, who owns Jack Russell’s Steak House with her husband, Tom.
She has been pleased with the response to the first events. “It’s been like a potluck – everybody brings a story to share,” she said. “Since we’re all amateurs, it’s really fun to see people being vulnerable and brave. It does take a lot to get up and tell a story.”
Three preliminary contests already have been held. Storytellers have six minutes to tell a true story without notes in front of a community audience and panel of judges.
Winners of the Bar Harbor preliminary, held at the Lompoc in Bar Harbor, were Ed Hawes, Judie Noonan and Jennifer Pictou. Karen Collins, Tom St. Germain and Steve Boucher served as judges.
Coda Restaurant in Southwest Harbor hosted the second event, held Sept. 19. Hope Rowan, Keri Hayes and Thom Willey were the winners. Judges were Clara Baker, Sam Shaw and Raney Bench.
Last week, Northeast Harbor got into the game with an event at the Asticou. Cherie Galyean, Adam Wales and Christopher Buczko won for their stories that night. Sam McGee, Carroll Fernald and Aaron Mitchell were the judges.
One more preliminary contest is set for Friday, Oct. 14, at the College of the Atlantic library at 7 p.m.
Kids in kindergarten through eighth grade can get in on the storytelling fun Saturday, Oct. 15, at 1 p.m. at the Jesup Memorial Library. The only rules are that each story is the teller’s own true tale, that the story must be told live with no scripts, notes or prompts, and that each story should be no longer than four minutes.
The kids will be grouped in three categories based on their grades: K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Each story will be judged by a panel, and the winners in each age group will tell their winning tales as the opening acts before the “Slampionship” at the Criterion.
For more information about the kids’ event, contact the Jesup at 288-4245.