Imagine telling a personal story to a room full of strangers. Regardless of your comfort level with public speaking, you’ll exhibit some apprehension. That’s a good thing according to Derrick Clements, creator of a storytelling platform called The Porch. Based out of Provo, it is working its way into Salt Lake City.
Since 2011 The Porch, held at Provo’s Muse Music Café, has been an environment where locals can come together to tell stories and celebrate the differences that so often go misunderstood. Clements notes that local topics and individuals create a unique result compared to national storytelling outlets such as The Moth. “Getting to know the place where you live is extremely rewarding and at every show that belief is cemented a little more,” says Clements.
Community focus has been key to The Porch’s success and has given way to several powerful, emotional moments for venue goers. “People attend because they want to experience something authentic and have their world expanded; they leave feeling connected, refreshed and validated,” says frequent storyteller, Anna Hargadon.
Recently, one man spoke about his personal journey with his homosexuality and Mormon faith, eventually revealing to the audience that he had just been fired from BYU. “I just sat there shocked as he began his story with that piece of news; the whole audience was with him,” says Clements.
The Porch thrives on this unpolished form of storytelling; there isn’t a thorough preliminary screening. It’s this raw spontaneity that creates a more personal connection between the teller and the listeners. It’s also why The Porch is gaining popularity. Ultimately, the stories told challenge the common idea that Utah exists in a cookie-cutter culture, but is instead quite diversity.
“When The Porch is at its best” says Clements, “the stories told here, could only be told here.”
For more information about The Porch or upcoming events visit www.UtahPorch.org.