The Show That Went On: How It All Turned Out

Painting by Britton Sukys


Over the last few months, in my series “The Show Must Go On,” I talked about being a writer preparing to perform onstage. “Drunken Telegraph,” a series of “live memoir” storytelling shows, started in Tacoma last month and I got to be in the very first one. (The next one is scheduled for September.)

The series is the story of a writer learning to be a storyteller. (They’re not always the same thing, as I quickly learned.) Throughout the series I talked about managing stage fright, about learning the differences between on-the-page writing and on-the-stage storytelling, about figuring out the stakes of a story, about what it is to structure a story for a live audience and to write for the ear rather than just for the eye. At the show we didn’t have any notes–just a microphone and an audience.

The theme of this show was “First Times,” so each of us talked about a first experience: first girlfriend, first trip to Europe, first road trip, first Communion. I’d originally pitched mine as the story of doing my first yoga headstand. After a while, though, the first headstand story became intertwined with another first time story: that of losing my job.

How did I put them together? I hope you’ll listen and find out. I’m excited to post the audio link here. The story lasts about 11 minutes.

My producer Megan and I worked very hard on this story, through drafts, revisions, and rehearsals. I’m still grateful to her, and to my friends and family who have followed along on the journey.  And thanks to Omar, my publisher here, for giving me an online forum to play and explore. All artists should be so lucky.

I hope you enjoy the results.