The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Storyteller Amy Antonucci will perform at the True Tales Live Onstage show in October. Courtesy photo.

True Tales Live Onstage 

Where: West End Studio Theatre, 959 Islington St., Portsmouth
When: Sundays, Sept. 3 and Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. 
Cost: $20 general admission, $18 for students and seniors 
More info:

Getting real
Storytellers share their personal stories on stage

By Angie Sykeny

 Everyone has a story — that’s the driving theme of True Tales Live, a television program aired monthly on Portsmouth Public Media TV that gives people a chance to share stories about their own personal experiences. 

On Sundays, Sept. 3 and Oct. 1, the program will host its twice-yearly live show, True Tales Live Onstage, at West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth, featuring six storytellers who will tell 10-minute stories revolving around this year’s theme, “Challenges and Discoveries.” 
“These are people’s personal stories, real things that took place in their lives and made a difference to them,” stage coach and production assistant David Phreaner said. “The stories may involve a journey of some kind — a physical, emotional or psychological journey — or a time when [the storytellers] were growing into new aspects of themselves.” 
True Tales Live started as a radio show on Portsmouth Community Radio in 2014 and transitioned into a television program on PPMTV in 2016. The 12 storytellers performing in the two onstage shows were selected out of more than 150 storytellers who have been featured on the program since its inception. 
“It’s a selective process,” Phreaner said. “These stories aren’t just an essay or a philosophical piece or a sermon or an op-ed. There has to be some kind of engagement. It has to connect with people.” 
Stories at the Sept. 3 show will include “Meeting People,” a German woman’s experience meeting people for the first time in a new country, told by Annette Slattery; “A Minute to Spare,” a man’s experience fighting through a series of mishaps to get to a job interview, told by John Rocheleau; “Beast,” a woman’s experience with sexual abuse, told by April Purinton; “The Doll Who Sat Beside Me,” a woman’s experience going to school in the 1950s as the only African-American student in her class, told by Sharon Jones; and “Good Fortune,” a woman’s experience with unexpected family connections, told by Judith Rubenstein. 
The show’s producer, John Lovering, will also tell his own story, “The Lip,” about a humorous incident that occurred with his older teenage sister while he was growing up in the 1950s.  
“She was madly in love with Elvis Presley … and she had a record album with Elvis’ picture that I was enthralled with,” he said. “It had a price tag which covered his lower lip, and I ripped the tag off, but part of his lip came off with it. So I tried to color it in with crayon, and there was this big battle. … It’s a funny story.”
Storytellers are encouraged to approach their stories as a theatrical performance and use animated gestures and facial expressions. They may even bring simple props to accompany their stories. Lovering, for example, will show the audience the real Elvis album referenced in his story. 
“There’s a visual aspect. Watching them tell the story is part of the story,” Lovering said. “They aren’t just standing there with their hands at their sides. They tell the story with their body as well as their voice.”
Although the True Tales Live television program is recorded in front of a live studio audience, Lovering said the show at the theater has a different vibe. 
“[With the TV show,] you’ve got the cameras, the microphones, five or six people in the control room, and it can be very distracting. People [in the audience] are more worried about making noise,” he said. “In the theater, you see people responding. They cry, they laugh, they cry from laughing so hard. You hear people gasp and go, ‘Oh!’ That doesn’t happen in the TV studio.” 
True Tales Live Onstage typically sells out, so buy tickets early, Phreaner and Lovering advise. Studio audiences are welcome at True Tales Live television recordings on the last Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the PPMTV studio (280 Marcy St., Portsmouth). Those interested in being a featured storyteller are invited to the free storytelling workshops offered at the studio on the first Tuesday of the month from 7:30 to 9 p.m. 

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