Storytelling school

Tell Us Something, now a nonprofit, brings live storytelling to Dennison

The Tell Us Something storybook series is back this month, and as you can imagine, people aren’t running out of material.

“We have really vulnerable, touching, raw and hilarious stories at the same time,” said Marc Moss, executive director of the association.

The theme for the Tuesday, September 27 event at the University of Montana’s Dennison Theater is “Letting Go.” After the past few years, people undoubtedly have stories, and Moss thinks they’re starting to feel more ready to share them, though some may still feel too raw.

As always, these are real personal anecdotes, told in 10 minutes live on stage without notes, and they never divulge names beforehand.

“We have stories of an unfortunate incident at a Russian ballet in New York that leads to all kinds of hilarious results,” he said. Others include someone who needs to give up one dream to pursue others, and an encounter at a car wash that relates to some type of request for public exposure – one that relates to the reconstructive surgery after surviving cancer.

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Note that this episode is at the Dennison. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. with an intermission. (It will return to its usual location in the Wilma on December 15.)

Regardless of venue, Moss said his pitch remains the same:

“It’s important to come together and listen to each other’s stories,” Moss said. “It helps us to learn about ourselves, to listen to others and it also broadens our knowledge of the world.”

During the pandemicTell Us Something officially became a 501(c)3 this summer after working under the auspices of the Missoula Community Foundation.

He returned to the Wilma last March, with a sold-out event, and held another outdoor event in Bonner Park which also reached capacity.

This installment, they offered free tickets to people who could not otherwise pay to attend a cultural event. The stewardship program is a partnership with the Missoula Electric Cooperative. Moss contacted Here Montana, Empower MT and the Missoula County Public Schools Indigenous Representative to distribute free passes. Anyone interested can email Moss at [email protected]

They are looking to strengthen their board and programming, with events in Helena and Butte. Corporate storytelling workshops, like the one with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, are coming soon. They worked with the University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program; and eventually want to get certified with the state’s Office of Public Instruction to offer teachers credit courses for professional development.

They included American Sign Language interpreters, and anyone from the deaf community who wants to reserve a spot in advance can contact Moss.

Moss said that in the long run, the nonprofit status could help them pay staff, and he’s also able to pay himself now.

They are collaborating with Imagine Nation Brewing Company on a TUS beer with artwork by a local creator, and will be hosting an event there for the release.

In November and December, they host an art show at Dram Shop Central, displaying framed posters that are over a decade old. They work with local and regional artists on the posters including Matt LaRubbio, Josh Quick, Hailey Faust, Max Mahn and many more.

Interest in the pitch stories returned to normal levels, with around 20-30 people. Anyone with an anecdote can call 406-203-4683. The theme is “It’s the little things”.

Last month, Moss hosted a Tell Us Something at Burning Man — he saw a call for performances on Center Stage and reached out. He issued a call for stories with their pitch. These will likely go live early this week on their site, where the story archive is also available.

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