True-Life Storytelling via “The Drunken Telegraph”

1 Jun

Painting by Britton Sukys.

In 1889, the British writer Rudyard Kipling passed through Tacoma and recorded these impressions:

“Overhead the drunken telegraph, telephone and electric-light wires tangled on tottering posts whose butts were half whittled through by the knife of the loafer… the town was thrown like a broken set of dominoes over all…”

Rudyard Kipling was just 24-years old when he wrote these words; he had not yet written The Jungle Book. His brief observations of the city have provided the name for a new performance storytelling event, The Drunken Telegraph, that will debut on Tues., June 5, at Anthem Coffee & Tea on Pacific Ave. Co-producers Tad Monroe and Megan Sukys promise a night of intimate storytelling in the spirit of National Public Radio’s “The Moth” and Seattle’s “A Guide to Visitors”.

Sukys and Monroe described The Drunken Telegraph like this: “For the first show, five local storytellers will share their true-life tales about first-time experiences. Tad Monroe, Rosalind Bell, Paul Currington, Tamiko Nimura and Cody Lail reveal the hilarity and insight gained from going to Europe for the first time, a first communion, a first yoga headstand, a first girlfriend and leaving home for the first time.

“The evening is split into two parts. In the first half, the headline storytellers share tales that they have developed through workshops with Drunken Telegraph host and coproducer Megan Sukys. In the second half, the stage opens for a ‘Story Slam’.

“Attendees can sign up for one of the 10 slots available to share a 5-minute story about a first experience that they think will thrill the audience. Megan Sukys will poll the audience, based on the human-calibrated Applause-o-Meter, about who they think should win the Slam. The winner gets a $10 gift certificate to King’s Books.”

Tad Monroe is the former pastor of Urban Grace Church (UGC) in downtown Tacoma, which under his tenure played a vibrant and innovative role in the local arts scene. UGC initiated the Tacoma Poet Laureate program (now overseen by the Tacoma Arts Commission), and the creation of a controversial (because of its incorporation of Islamic imagery) mural project on the wall of the Rialto Theater, executed by local wunderkind, Fab-5. Monroe’s interest in exploring the church’s role as a channel for community conversation and free expression earned UGC a prestigious AMOCAT Award in 2010. Monroe is also a writer; he has done guest spots on NPR station KUOW on topics such as, “Baseball as Religion.” Today, he is the Ecumenical and Multi-Faith Campus Minister at Seattle University. He resides in Tacoma, his home of 19 years.

Megan Sukys is an executive producer on the public radio show, KUOW Presents, and she was a presenter at the recent TEDx event in Tacoma. She makes her home in Tacoma with her husband, Britton, an artist and musician, and their two kids. Megan and Britton Sukys are longtime neighbors of Monroe, and the trio have worked on previous collaborative ventures involving writing and music.

According to the producers, “Drunken Telegraph will be a quarterly production, tackling a new topic every three months. The next show’s topic and date will be announced at each performance. People can pitch stories via The Drunken Telegraph Facebook page. Performers of all experience levels are welcome to pitch and slam. Drunken Telegraph supports and promotes the culture of entertaining personal storytelling.”

The Drunken Telegraph will debut at Anthem Coffee & Tea located on Pacific Ave. between the Washington State History Museum and the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Beer and wine will be available at the event, in addition to tea and caffeine. “Pick your poison!,” says Monroe. “But, just because it’s called the Drunken Telegraph doesn’t mean you have to drink or that the storytellers will be drunk (in fact we prefer they not be).” Don’t miss this event, on the mean streets that Kipling described:

“We passed … along pavements that beginning in pine-plank ended in the living tree… by a female seminary, tall, gaunt and red, which a native of the town bade us marvel at, and we marveled.” – Rudyard Kipling

WHAT: The Drunken Telegraph
WHEN: Tues., June 5, 2012; 7 pm
WHERE: Anthem Coffee & Tea; 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
DETAILS: Find the event on Facebook for more information and to RSVP.


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