Caro Meets Spoken Word Interview

Molly Naylor: True Stories Live

By | Published on Tuesday 14 November 2017

If you’re a fan of live storytelling, then rejoice, because Norwich Arts Centre’s ‘True Stories Live’ is on tour and it’s coming to a venue near you – The Rosemary Branch Theatre, to be precise. If you’re not a fan, then you probably haven’t seen any good storytelling, so here’s your chance, right now.

Anyway, to find out more about what to expect from the event, and how it all came together, I had a quick chat with host Molly Naylor.

CM: Can you start by explaining the format of the show? What happens?
MN: The show consists of a range of speakers telling true stories about their lives, based on a theme. The stories are up to ten minutes in length. They have to be true, and told without paper, and they have to be about the person who’s telling it.

CM: What is the theme of the upcoming event at The Rosemary Branch?
MN: The theme of this event is Lost and Found. Speakers can interpret it however they like – we set at theme at each event but we don’t intend it to be prescriptive. It’s just to spark ideas.

CM: What is your role in it? Who else is involved, and how will they each participate?
MN: Me (Molly Naylor) and Lucy Farrant are the co-directors of True Stories Live. I also host the shows, and Lucy produces them. It’s a co-production with Norwich Arts Centre, who have supported it from the very start.

CM: How have the different acts been selected?
MN: Comedian Athena Kugblenu did a story at our event at Babble On at the Edinburgh Book Festival in the summer. She was amazing so I asked her to come back. I’ve been on a bill with Geoff Deane before and found him excellent. I am a huge fan of Zia Ahmed so was delighted to get him on the bill. I asked comics Amy Mason and Angus Dunican because they will bring the laughs and make us think. Helen Nianias is a journalist whose writing I really admire – I can’t wait to see what she offers us.

CM: Whose idea was it to begin True Stories Live?
MN: Lucy and Norwich Arts Centre approached me last year and asked if I’d like to be involved in a true stories night in Norwich. I’d done lots of similar events in the past and loved them. I was excited about building something brilliant in Norwich. I’d been moaning about there not being a storytelling night there, without it occurring to me that I could be part of doing one. I love what Josie Long says about this – “if you want something to exist, you have to make it”. What a dreamboat. I should ask her to do the next event.

CM: So the show has been a regular night at the Norwich Arts Centre, but has gone on tour in 2017. Have you been involved with it in an ongoing capacity?
MN: Yes, and its been great. We took it to Llawn and the Edinburgh Book Festival and we held an anniversary event with Sara Pascoe and Gavin Osborn (who were both incredible). Chester Literary Festival is next (where I’m delivering a workshop to recruit members of the public to speak at the event), then London (hi!) and then that’s it for the year.

CM: Do you think now that it’s been on tour, it will go on tour again?
MN: For sure. We’re currently planning an exciting programme of events next year, including a project with a local LGBT+ youth group.

We hope Babble On at Edinburgh Book Festival will invite us back, and we’re thinking about other places we can make ‘True Stories Live’ happen.

‘True Stories Live’ is on at Rosemary Branch Theatre on 19 Nov. See this page here for info.

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Photo: Robin Mair