At 7pm on a Friday evening The National Library Auckland Centre is usually deserted, staff and customers alike are beginning their weekends, the lights are off and the doors are locked, but on October the 12th it was a very different story, or nine very different stories to be more exact…
To mark the end of the Kermadecs: Expeditions and Connections exhibition The National Library partnered with The New Zealand Book Council to present Deep Water – A True Stories Told Live Event.
At its deepest the Kermadec trench plummets to ten kilometres and due to this extreme depth most of this area remains unexplored. With this highly successful exhibition as its backdrop, ‘Deep Water’ was an obvious theme for the evening. It was a theme speakers could apply literally, while also allowing plenty of scope to interpret and shape laterally to serve their own ends.
The speakers came from a broad range of backgrounds; musician Don McGlashan; visual artist John Reynolds; marine biologist Tom Trinski; writer and blogger Rosabel Tan; journalist Jose Barbosa; playwright Arthur Meek; painter and novelist Jacqueline Fahey; Sir Peter Blake student voyager Isabel Ikin; and writer Stephanie Johnson.
When considering ‘Deep Water’, the speakers told us about: life as an altar boy; writers block in the Scottish highlands; being chased by sharks in the Kermadec Islands; and an eye-opening experience during a relationship therapy session. As The saying goes, ‘Life is stranger than fiction’ and the fact that these stories have to be true makes this format unexpected to say the least.
Several events associated with the Kermadec programme have taken place in the exhibition space and contributed to The National Library Auckland centre’s growing reputation as a knowledge centre. A place where customers can engage with issues, be entertained and informed in a variety of ways. These different levels of engagement provide opportunities for connections between communities and individuals across different sectors.
While the National Library and the Kermadec exhibition provided the backdrop, context and theme for this event, the evening would not have been so memorable without the generosity of the people attending and sharing their stories. Our True Stories Told Live event was a fundraiser for the Book Council, so the mix of speakers reflected this. The communities that have developed around the storytellers are diverse and ensured lively discussion after the event.
The communities that develop around our Schools and Libraries are equally, if not more, diverse and when we consider our own approaches to fundraising it is easy to underestimate the resources we have to draw on. True stories Told Live provides a format that allows anyone to contribute and enables us to value and recognise the rich texture of life experience that makes up our community.
Creating your own True Stories Told Live Event.
This needs to be relevant but also open to interpretation. This could be related to an inquiry learning topic your school is exploring, a current event, or it could even reference the fundraising goal. The possibilities are limitless and could even be something that is crowd-sourced as part of the publicity for the event. As the main goal of the theme is to bring the community together,, consider an idea that is relevant, important and will engage speakers and audience.
The next stage is finding story tellers; ideally this group will be connected to the community and have a diverse age range. While not everyone enjoys public speaking, most people know someone with a great story.
This works best if it is a well lit community space with comfortable seating. Some sort of sound amplification may be needed depending on the size of the event.
We recommend a Master of Ceremonies to introduce the event, its purpose and the speakers. The rules are simple:
- True stories only.
- No longer than eight minutes – ten minutes maximum, to be officiated by the MC.
- The story must relate to the theme or be funny enough to make the audience forget its lack of relevance.
The event works best if it’s informal, with money raised by charging a nominal entry fee and perhaps asking guests to bring a plate.
True Stories Told Live is an opportunity for community groups to raise money, get to know each other better and explore an idea from many different points of view. The results are often surprising and always hilarious. We are looking forward to our next True Stories Told Live event and also to hearing about yours.
Photo by author