In what has proven to be a brilliant experiment in developing a literature-theater hybrid, they continue to push the already wide boundaries of creative nonfiction. Once an annual festival, 2nd Story has expanded to performing three to six times a month, and now has a stable of more than a hundred active performers.
At least, that’s the plan: to share stories that represent different parts of American life—themes include drugs, birth, jazz, luck, cancer, fortunetellers, race, drunken girls and faith, among others. They’re different, funny and hysterical at times, but the stories can also draw you into a stillness that’s hard to shake, making you want to give the teller a hug. A huge one.
In vampire lore, the undead often have the ability to “glamour” humans: They focus an intense type of hypnotism on humans, forcing them to believe what the vampire says. Being in the audience for a performance of 2nd Story, one of Chicago’s premier literary reading series, is kind of like being glamoured.
Mesmerized by 2nd Story.
While the process really grew out of trial-and-error, Amanda and I can certainly attribute our current good fortune to the amazing team of super-talented, dedicated people we’ve got in all aspects of the organization: production, music, marketing, story development, performance direction, sound design, storytellers and, most importantly, our wonderful, committed audience that keeps coming back, that finds value in what we do, that recognizes the power in a simple story and, hopefully, the inspiration to tell their own.
To audience members, 2nd Story may be most effective due to its unique format, which fosters discussion among the audience first and foremost. The name, Delheimer notes, is a play on words — not only does the series take place on the second story of Webster’s Wine Bar, but the ultimate goal of the series is “to get people to tell their story afterwards. That second story after each performance is what we’re really trying to get at.
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