STORY NIGHT: the tale of a community
Dear Beautiful Women
I write to tell you of a project that has achieved outstanding success in my community. Galway's Story Night.
Around the candlelight of a kitchen table in January of 2006, myself and a few friends gathered. They wanted to hear tales and to learn how to tell tales better. I told some stories, everyone that night told a tale or two. When we blew out the candle they said...when can we do this again? For a little while we had forgotten the world and we wanted to do that again.
The next time we met there were more people, maybe 10, the next time it has risen to 16, the next: 24. By word of mouth the storygathering was growing. It developed a rhythm and a tone. It developed rules that would ensure the respect and care of all involved. No tales longer than ten minutes, no reading your stories from a page, songs were welcome, poetry was too abstract and later became banned from story nights. The gathering got so big that I decided to take it public. We had 45 people of all ages gather on the first public night in the Town Hall Studio, that was in June 2006.
Since then Story Night has moved around the city a bit, until it found a good home in a yoga centre called The Spirit Centre on Nun's Island, in the middle of Galway City. On the 1st Tuesday of every month people of all ages and all nationalities come and gather around candles to listen and tell or sing their tales. We have heard tales from Nigeria, Singapore, India, America, Ireland, England, Scotland, France. Tales have travelled from Palestine, Spain, South America, Germany, Sri Lanka. They come in all shapes and sizes, some are but a few sentences, others are a chapter from someone's life.
Once a month we gather in the penumbra and we take slow deep breaths. We listen to each other's tales and recognise many things as parts of our own story. Every month is different. Every month a new teller tells, sometimes they have never told a tale in their life! The audience is warm and welcoming. We nibble on cake and sip tea at the break, some people gathering courage to tell in the second half. Every month people of all races and generations brave the Irish weather to come to a place that does not serve alcohol, to sit in a room full of strangers and to share stories.
Every month is different, and every month is magic. I founded this Story Night in 2006. It continues to amaze me. The stories people bring and the warmth and feeling of community in the room amazes me. I do not know how long Story Night will live, for as long as the community wants it to. It has created a communal currency between people that is palpable.
If you are ever passing through Galway on the first Tuesday of the month, come and find us, the candles will be lit and we shall save some tea and tales just for you.
in word and deed