Either speaking or listening.
"I realized being on stage with a glaring spotlight was intimidating, not only
does it hurt my eyes, but it made me short-sighted and I cannot see the rest of
the room except the audience seated closest to the stage. I think it serves two
practical purposes: to highlight and put into the foreground the subject: the
storyteller, because ... of course. The reason is so obvious and as clear as
sky. So the other not-so-obvious reason would be: so that the storyteller will
not see the audience and that builds more comfort because it is less
overwhelming -- being blinded by the light gives the illusion of being alone in
his/her own thoughts and so the story may flow more naturally without being
self-conscious about an audience. Also, the storyteller sees fewer judging
eyes. I don't know, that is just how I feel, I may be wrong. I leave it up to the
experts out there. So when I went on stage I felt the room all of a sudden turned burning hot, and
that the spotlight was sucking away my soul, and my thoughts with them. I knew
in that split-second I cannot stay there too long or I may end up wilted and
dried up of my senses, and be like a frozen dressed (featherless) chicken
suffering a mental block instead of a human being confidently sharing her
stories. Of course, I am exaggerating, to say it simply, I had a short episode
of stage fright. And I admit I was not comfortable being in the middle of
everyone's attention. It may be a surprise and unconvincing for anyone of my
colleagues to believe me if I tell them that I am an introvert (an ambivert to
be exact) -- I can almost hear their gasps and disbelief in my mind right now.
But in all honesty, I'd rather be the observer than the observed. So imagine
the power of a spotlight over me, I was a dead woman, a fainting scene waiting
to happen (again, I am exaggerating). So I chose to find a comfortable spot right further in front of the stage,
avoiding the glare of the spotlight. To my surprise, I was met with an even
more formidable dilemma -- I realized that there were actually more people in
the room and in the back. I didn't see them earlier when I was in front of the
spotlight. Yes, thank you, I was fooled by a perception of depth, and now that
I can see my audience clearly, panic almost hit me and I wanted to back away.
Run away, far and as fast as I can. But then I looked to my left and saw two lovely humans who came to support me,
and they watched me encouragingly. And I looked back to the audience who were
waiting with anticipation. To those who were in Story Nights: Manila premier,
this may come as a surpise, but I tell you all of these thoughts came to my
mind in a split second like the floodgates were suddenly opened and sent tons
of water crashing downstream, washing me away with the flood (actually I would
have wanted that to literally happen to me at that moment, easy yet tragic
escape). But then I was reminded about my theme for my story: "Without
Expectations". I came to the event without any expectations. What's the
worst thing that can happen? I tell the story badly that my audience gets
bored. Okay, fair enough, rough start, but that does not make me a bad story
teller, just an inexperienced one. So I just need more practice. What's the best thing that can happen? I didn't know, I didn't have time to think
about the scenarios because obviously at this point my actions need to catch on
because an audience was waiting, and the moment I accepted the worst scenario,
my mind came with the most brilliant idea to say my introductions "I am
Loreen and ..." As cliche as it sounds, the rest was history. I was a bit annoyed at my mind for opening my mouth to start with introductions
because that was the point of no return. Actually, the moment I stood up and
went to the stage was a point of no return. I could have backed out so many
times during the week: I almost convinced myself that I cannot tell a story
about myself because I practice Stoic Philosophy and I didn't want to end up
self-serving (that is a story for another time); I was feeling a bit feverish
that night (and I ended up going to the doctor the next day and miss the last
day of my training where I could have earned 12.5 CPD units, and my attendance
on the first day just going to the drain); getting a ride to the venue was hell
(I miss Uber dearly, and I dislike Grab, but what can I do, at this point
there's not much options). But amidst all that, I still chose to come. I didn't want to turn around
because the person I will be disappointing will be myself. And based on
experience, I am harsh at myself when I disappoint. "Do one thing that
scares you, every day." And so I was reminded. We fear the things we do not know, because the unknown is just scary, because
the worst things come lurking in the dark. That is why we fear the future,
because we do not know what is going to happen. But I am glad that I did take
the plunge and managed to utter those first few words, like how I managed to
jump off a 30ft cliff in one of my travels with Experience Philippines. It felt
almost the same. You just do it, and the feeling of fear transforms itself to
become exhilarating, and then it becomes a little personal accomplishment that
is worthy to give my unforgiving self a pat on the back. I'd tell: You were
courageous. Now you are ready to climb a higher cliff and take another brave
leap (and a backflip maybe) before someone else has to kick you and then make
you fall flat on your stomach. (The former looked more glorious than the
latter.) So back to the spotlight and the audience I was surprised to see when I chose
to avoid the glaring light. It felt surreal, because the moment I started to
let go and just speak as if I was having a conversation, the community
responded. They were hearing me, they were laughing with me, their eyes widened
with surprise, with me, and they were smiling at me with encouragement. They
were not the monsters I had imagined them to be, but they were humans who were
eager to tell and hear a story. They were like a big blanket and a nice warm
cup of coffee in the cold rainy day (yes, it came to a point when I felt cold
while speaking -- perhaps the fever kicking in). The stage suddenly felt
comfortable and the experience life-changing. Here is another one for where
strangers felt like souls connecting with souls. It was beautiful. And so I came to Story Nights: Manila without expectations, and I left a better
human being with a better appreciation with her fellow humans, and one more
meaningful experience richer.
P.S. I am grateful to the organizers of this event for the wonderful opportunity to experience something that scares me. It is truly a remarkable one for me. And to the community on the premier night, you are beautiful. And to the fellow 7 plus 2 storytellers ... you did amazingly. And to you, yes the reader, if you would like to give storytelling a shot, I must say that this is a safe space for you to start, and learn about this wonderful community. Do one thing that scares you, every day.
Click here if you want us to say hello to you!
This is the magic of Story Nights: how people relate to what they hear, how they engage. Look at some of the faces and you will understand. Next time, come and experience it yourself; the energy is palpable if complete strangers get on a stage and few minutes later new friends go back to their chairs after they have spoken. For us who are on stage, blinded by spotlights, it is difficult to see the faces which are further away but, later on, pictures like these help us to capture the magic which was in the air.
We do not have an audience but we like to turn our online community into friends as soon as we can. People came from all over the world: Kenya, India, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria and from all over the Philippines. Part of our events is dedicated to go around and talk to those who came, introduce ourselves and get to know them a bit. In the picture on the left, she is from Kenya and he is from Germany, They said that they are both too shy to tell a story but we are not so sure about that. Many people who join us say the same thing at the beginning of the evening but later they ask to get on stage, right Janiel? She said she came because she had nothing better to do and that had no intention to let us know her story. The same story that a couple of hours later she named: "To fall in love with anyone, do this." Yes, she is the one on the right with a microphone in her hands. This is what happens at Story NIghts!
April 26th, 2018 it's a date we won't forget at Story NIghts Manila. Our very first event at Pineapple Lab. The traffic wasn't easy as usual (Manila we love you!) and the particular shortage of available taxi and public cars prevented few people from arriving. We were a bit nervous but in the end we had a full house, including Gigi the tall stuffed giraffe in the back of the room. Our staff was wearing matching White polo shirt with our logo and flashing smiles. People had time to mingle and meet each other in the right spirit of Story Nights but the best was yet to come.
Story Nights is opening in Cebu!
6 Jun, 2018
We got some media attention!
13 May, 2018
She, me and the stories in between
7 May, 2018
What is happening at Story Nights?
2 May, 2018
We have our YouTube channel!
1 May, 2018
Do one thing that scares you, every day.
30 Apr, 2018
Would you like to have Story Nights Manila at your venue?
29 Apr, 2018
What an amazing beginning for Story NIghts Manila on April 26th: 10 storytellers and over 50 people attending. The Force was running strong in those ones.