At a cozy house off of 12th Avenue South, a sea of strangers sits cross-legged holding mugs of Thursday night dinner tea.
The floor is barely visible and personal space is invaded, but nobody seems to mind. Their wide eyes are fixated on the wooden stool in the front of the room.
Full of laughter and tears, Story House brings the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as storytellers sit on the wooden stool and share experiences or tales. It is a place where people gather to share their stories through poetry, spoken word and song the first Thursday of the month.
Austin Ban, a junior computer science major and entrepreneurship minor, founded Story House last spring.
“I love storytelling but could never find a medium or platform for it so I decided to develop Story House,” said Ban.
As a creative platform for the fringe of the artistic community, Story House attracts a variety of storytellers.
“It started off with a lot of music but as the word has gotten out it has started to attract poets, slam poets, spoken word, short stories, rappers and interpretive dance. It’s geared towards those who can’t find a platform elsewhere,” said Ban.
Story House is divided into two acts. For the first act, those who contacted Ban via Facebook or the Story House website share their pieces.
“The last Story House prompted me to share. Everybody here is honest, genuine people who want to connect and who are open to accept you,” said Ian Brennan, a slam poet who decided to share in the first act.
“I’ve always wanted to give a TED Talk in my life so to have an opportunity to give a more personal and genuine TED Talk was the door I needed to step into the world and share my first poem,” said Brennan.
After a 15-minute intermission full of eating cookies and meeting strangers, the second act begins as Ban pulls names out of a fish bowl.
“I’ve never done anything like this because there has never been an opportunity for me to share,” said Jessica Ives, who shared an original story during the second act.
The Story House venue is Ban’s own home on the corner of Granny White Pike and 12th Avenue South. The capacity is around 75 people, with 163 people RSVPing on the Facebook event page for the November Story House.
Although people had to be turned away at the door, all are encouraged to come on Dec. 3 for Christmas at the Story House.
Find out more about Story House here.
Story and video by Courtney Bellush.