Weber State University will be hosting its First Fall Story Slam on Friday October 30 at 11 a.m. in the Shepard Union Fireplace Lounge. The WSU Storytelling Festival is hosting this event.

Sam Payne, a professional storyteller of international reclaim, is the guest artist this year. Payne, a former Wildcat has traveled around the world telling stories and teaching workshops. He also hosts “The Apple Seed: Tellers and Stories,” a daily national radio show on the art of storytelling for BYU radio.

 National Storyteller,Sam Payne offers advice to Kathryn Reeder,  a participant at one of his workshops. (Ashley Moyes / The Signpost)
National Storyteller,Sam Payne offers advice to Kathryn Reeder, a participant at one of his workshops. (Ashley Moyes/The Signpost)

Payne offered workshops earlier this month at WSU. Three sessions were given on Friday, Oct. 9, and on the following Friday, Oct. 16. These workshops were designed to help anyone who wishes develop their storytelling skills.

“My favorite thing about being on a stage is communing with an audience. Sharing things from that help everyone, both the performer and the audience, it shows how connected we are and how common our experiences are,” said Payne.

Participants will have five minutes to tell their stories in front of a live audience. The stories need to be true and must be told from memory. All students, faculty and community member who are 18 or older are welcome to attend. Judges will be awarded prizes for the best stories.

The stories can be on any topic but are often most often stories of personal conflicts or triumphs.

“Slam stories tend to be crude, or risqué, which is why they are intended for older crowds,” said Rachel Hedman, “The story slam model is the most drastic and intense piece of your life that is huge, and that is hard.”

Hedman serves on the WSU Storytelling Executive Committee and has been telling stories for over 21 years. She got involved in storytelling her sophomore year in high school and went on to receive her masters in storytelling at East Tennessee University.

“I have seen stories be able to motivate, to inspire and I love seeing that knowing why, because deep down all of us as human beings are wired by story. The proof is the response when we use it,” said Hedman.

Vincent Bates, assistant professor of education and festival chair, encourages students to participate for many reasons.

“For anybody that is involved in creative writing, drama or public speaking, this is a great way to develop their skills and have an opportunity to perform in front of a group. It’s interesting for teachers because getting up in front of people and being able to talk is an important skill.”

The WSU Storytelling Festival is now in its 20th year and remains committed to youth story telling. However, the fall Story Slam is geared towards adults. Story slams had been a part of the festival for several years but this is the first time they featuring as an independent event at WSU.

“ This investment in adult storytelling is a new world, to open up there is a lot of rich opportunity for the great culture of story telling that already exists in the Ogden area to be enhanced and amplified by this kind of story telling,” said Payne.

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