Somerville Storytellers Compete in Story Slam Semi-Finals

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Somerville residents Julie Anne Otis, Devin Bramhall, and Lynne Doncaster will compete in massmouth’s story slam Semi-Finals, where top local storytellers duke it out for the chance to
appear in our final event, the “Big Mouth Off.”

All proceeds from these events benefit massmouth’s StoriesLive® program, which has introduced over 5,000 high school students from 15 Massachusetts high schools to the art of 21st century storytelling and awarded over $17,000 in scholarship prizes.

Here’s what our Somerville tellers had to say about the story slam semi-finals:

JULIE ANN OTIS

“I’m thrilled to be storytelling at Johnny D’s, a restaurant that has always welcomed its doors to me. When I was a sophomore at Tufts oh-so-many years ago, I had gone to a New Year’s Eve celebration and T’d back to Davis Square completely obliterated. The very kind and somewhat rattled man working the door at Johnny D’s that night instantly let me run to use their facilities when I showed up like a glazed donut about to burst at their feet. I thank him for assuming I was old enough to come in even though I wasn’t, and I’m hoping the drama I bring to Johnny’s this time will only be onstage.”

Julie is a poet, singer, existential detective, and healer in Somerville. She is currently conducting an 8-month creative & spiritual investigation and recently returned from studying mask, puppetry, and religious practices in Indonesia. You can follow her cliff leaping at julieannotis.tumblr.com.

Julie Anne Otis will compete at Johnny D’s on March 5 at 6:30 PM. Tickets will be $15 in advance at $20 at the door.

DEVIN BRAMHALL
“I think I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. It started when I learned how to write – I never stopped! Then I discovered live storytelling and I realized that this was the perfect combination of writing and performance. Now I’m hooked!
“I still get nervous every time I perform, but once I start telling, I forget about the nerves and become completely energized by the audience. They are what make storytelling so addicting!
“I feel elated after each performance! Even when it’s not my best, I love being on stage so much that i can’t help but be excited after each performance.
“This is my second time in the semi-finals and I’m honored to be chosen. I love storytelling, and being in the semis gives me one more chance to perform!”

Devin Bramhall will compete at Club Passim on March 17 at 6:30 PM. Tickets will be $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

LYNNE DONCASTER
“Although I’ve always made up stories and enjoyed an audience, I started doing spoken word performance as a student at MassArt’s Studio for Interrelated Media. It was a perfect marriage of my love of theater and my affinity for writing. I do have to admit that as the youngest child of a family of interrupters (and a somewhat shy person off-stage), it also fed my need to be heard – unlike the kitchen table, everyone shuts up and lets you finish your story when there’s a microphone in front of you.
“Beyond the amazing feeling one gets from having an audience’s undivided attention, the process of preparing stories for telling has been really valuable for me. I’m forced to constantly re-evaluate my feelings and interpretation of events as I edit my stories to meet the time requirements.
“I’m excited to be in the Semi-Finals! And it also raises my competitive spirit. Although I’ve been performing for many years, this is my first time being part of a competition season. My inner perfectionist is at war with my insecurities.”

Lynne Doncaster will compete at Ryles Jazz Club on March 23 at 6:30 PM. Tickets will be $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

What’s a story slam? Modeled after poetry slams, massmouth’s story slams invite storytellers—from experienced performers to first-timers—to share a real-life story in five minutes. Storytellers sign up and 10 are chosen at random to tell their story on the slam’s theme. Volunteer judges award prizes based on a story’s narrative arc, presentation and connection to the theme. Judges select first and second place winners and the audience votes for a third.

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