Chatterbox Storytelling offers platform to explore personal narratives

Storyline Collective hosts open mic every Wednesday at Grand Central Coffee Company

Audiences experience waves of emotion as speakers take the stage to confess their personal narratives at an open mic event hosted every Wednesday at Grand Central Coffee Company

Chatterbox Storytelling is one of four open mic events the Storyline Collective hosts. It began in October, but its official grand opening was Wednesday, Nov. 2. 

Producers for Chatterbox Storytelling worked on Yarnball Storytelling Mic, another open mic storytelling event hosted at Lawn Gnome Publishing, but decided they wanted to start a new event at a different venue to offer Phoenix more opportunities for storytelling.

Chatterbox producer Jessie Balli said she chose Grand Central Coffee Company because of its large outdoor space and its location in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

“It has a really awesome vibe to it,” Balli said. “There’s everything you’d want when you’re looking at a venue. It’s for all ages, and it has a full bar and pastries. We have our own space out in the back so we don’t have to interrupt anything going on in the business.”

Storytellers arrive 30 minutes in advance to sign-up. When their name is called to perform they have six to eight minutes to tell a personal story of their choosing.

Every week features a different theme. The grand opening was “The Whole Truth.” Chatterbox Storytelling producers said the themes are more like suggestions and performers are welcome to tell any personal story they want. The loose guidelines lead to a wide variety of stories ranging from outrageous to heart-wrenching.

Grace Boardman told the emotional story of her best friend’s suicide last year. Boardman described storytelling as a freeing experience.

“I think it’s something that’s really liberating for a lot of people, especially people that are really shy or have trouble being in front of other people," Boardman said. "It can be something that’s super liberating and exciting for them to have this new experience where they feel listened to."

Chatterbox Storytelling offers creative outlet for storytellers of every level from The State Press on Vimeo.

Storyline Collective executive producer Dan Hoen Hull said Chatterbox Storytelling is a great place for all levels of storytellers.

“You have to have a place where people who’ve been storytelling for awhile can work out, and you have to have a place where people who are thinking about it can show up," Hull said. "It’s low-key, it’s a supportive audience, and they can put their foot in the water in the shallow end of the pool."

The Storyline Collective hosts four shows in the Valley: The Storyline, Then it Got Weird, Crystal Clear and Chatterbox Storytelling.

Balli encourages anyone interested to come out to the event.

“If people are scared of telling stories, and they don’t think that they can do it in front of a microphone, anybody can,” Balli said. “I mean, our show is the best for that. We are very open and positive. We are a very welcoming crowd, and that’s the community that we foster here.”

The next Chatterbox Storytelling open mic will be held Wednesday Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. at Grand Central Coffee Company, with the theme “Moving On.”


Reach the reporter at cdhenry@asu.edu or follow @carlyhenry_on Twitter.

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