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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Storytellers lead listeners on an odyssey

    Stories are everything.

    This was the thought of Penelope Starr when she created the Odyssey Storytelling Series. The event is held every month as six storytellers share their experiences about one topic.

    Starr, 61, was interested in starting the series in Tucson after she saw Porch Light, a similar group that is produced by her daughter-in-law in San Francisco.

    “”When I came back to Tucson, I thought that we really needed something like that,”” Starr said.

    She found the perfect place in a downtown coffee shop, Wilde Playhouse, 135 E. Congress St. The location provided an intimate atmosphere, like that of a living room.

    Odyssey Storytelling has since moved to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., but still retains the same feeling. Now in its third year, the series has had much success with its monthly events.

    For each series, Starr chooses a different theme, with topics ranging from “”Size Does Matter”” to “”The Thing About Hair.””

    “”I choose themes that can be broadly interpreted and can be seen from different perspectives,”” she said.

    This month’s theme is “”All My Relations,”” which is meant to celebrate families or to celebrate surviving them.

    The topics are creative, and many people are attracted to the series because it provides connections through stories, Starr said. It is also a good opportunity for the storytellers to express themselves.

    “”Public speaking can be one of the hardest things people do, but everybody just wants to be heard,”” she said.

    When Starr began the Odyssey Series, she had to recruit people to share their stories. As popularity has grown for the event, Starr said she has no problem getting volunteers.

    Students, doctors and writers are just some of the occupations held by those who have participated in the past.

    Nothing is staged or made up. It is about real people and their experiences.

    Writer Denise Uyehara will be one of the six storytellers heard during the series this Saturday. Her enjoyment of stories brought her to Odyssey.

    “”I believe we tell stories because we are responding to the world, trying to find ways to move through it,”” she said.

    Uyehara, a performance artist and writer, will be participating for the first time and said she is excited to share her story about the challenges she experienced after the birth of her son.

    Although her story will not be about a
    controversial issue, Uyehara said she believes that addressing difficult issues is important.

    “”The stories that really engage me as an audience member are the ones that allow for contradictions and don’t shy away from difficult material,”” she said.

    Starr agreed that it is necessary to bring these topics out into the open and to bring a diverse community together.

    “”One of my goals is for people to learn about each other and to dispel prejudices,”” she said.

    This month’s series will be held Saturday at Club Congress. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the show starting at 7. Tickets are $7 at the door and available through the Hotel Congress Web site: www.hotelcongress.com.

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