The Shed Story Salon
Monthly Readings In A Red Hook Backyard
If there’s one thing that defines the times we’re living in, it may be that people have an almost comical number of ways to communicate with—really, to tell stories to—one another. And even at our most fatigued and information-overloaded moments, no one here would ever argue that that’s a bad thing. But there’s still something uniquely satisfying (and unfortunately rare) about unplugging, gathering as a group, and listening to another person’s story unfold in real time, face-to-face. Which is exactly why, just a little over a year after it started off, The Shed Story Salon has been so popular.
Since launching in June 2012, cofounders Jason Fried, Audrey Evans, Chrysanthe Tenentes and Katie Cooper have seen their roster of attendees explode from 30 to 300, almost entirely via word of mouth. “We have found that everyone loves to hear and tell stories whether you are involved in the literary community or not,” Evans says. This is aided by the simple format: each reading consists of seven seven-minute stories, loosely based on a chosen theme, like “uncertainty,” “beginner’s luck,” or “blackout.”
“People tend to have a literal interpretation of the theme, but the most unexpected and creative stories come when the storyteller has a loose or idiosyncratic interpretation,” Evans says. “We had a pair of septuagenarians tell our first tag-team story recently, which was priceless.” The location plays a key role in all of this, too, and the readings actually started in part because Fried and Cooper found themselves with access to a lovely backyard in Red Hook—which does, in fact, feature a shed—and wanted to put it to good use. By necessity, the readings move indoors during the colder months—a session once took place at a Soho loft, funded by the government of Australia—but the backyard in Red Hook, with the options for a spontaneous bonfire or a post-reading trip to Sunny’s, will always form the core of the Shed’s identity.
As will the people who come every month to share their stories. Tenentes describes the readings as “more about having a community where we can share experiences through storytelling than programming curated performances or readings. Sometimes people tell stories that make everyone cry. Usually, there is constant laughter.” She says, “Humor seems to be one of the most comfortable modes of storytelling for people—everyone intuitively knows how to tell a great funny story.”