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Thursday, January 12, 2012

First-Person: Matt Goldberg on Confabulation

Montreal Confidential
(Intimate) True stories are what Confabulation is all about
by Matt Goldberg

I've been trying to write about Confabulation since I started it last year. It's funny to me how tricky it's been to write about an event whose main rule involves performing solo with no notes. But this week is special. Friday night at Mainline will be Confabulation's 22nd event. If you've missed our first 21, Confabulation is a showcase of all-true stories. Each month, we get six storytellers to share stories of their lives, without notes, props or gimmicks. In these first 21 events, we've had over 120 full-length stories, plus 23 micro-stories (at February's The Shortest Story challenge). We've played at six venues -- Freestanding Room, The Grand Bayou, Mainline Theatre's Mini-Main and Mainstage, Shaika, and Shift Space.  We've had lawyers and lay-people, librarians and students, actors and directors, journalists and editors, comedians, dancers, artists and unemployed people. We've had confessions, tell-alls, revelations, refutations, analyses, analogies, and apologies. And now, for the first time ever, we'll have a show hosted by someone other than me. Which feels so good.

The episode is titled Tell Me A Story.

I love Confabulation. In any of the strange segments of my life -- as an actor, a writer, a teacher, a producer -- I try to tell great stories. Confabulation grew out of this need for narrative in my life. I was at a point in my creative life where I was realizing that I needed to try new things. I'd recently started listening to more podcasts -- The Moth, and This American Life are clear inspirations for Confabulation -- but it was actually an episode of the science-themed podcast, Radiolab, that solidified why I think storytelling is so important.

The episode is titled Tell Me A Story. In this podcast, Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich is giving a commencement speech to graduates of the California Institute of Technology, and he implores these students to share their work -- to tell family members, friends, anyone their 'stories'. His pitch is that experts and scientists are getting more and more divorced from the telling of our culture's stories, and as such losing credit in the public mind.

I think we're losing touch with other people in a very fundamental way.

I love Krulwich's point, but would take it a step further. I think we're losing touch with other people in a very fundamental way. I know it sounds like an old complaint, but that doesn't make it any less true. I hope by giving people a space to share stories, to give voice to their experiences, we're recognizing and in so doing, strengthening what makes us human. I want to recognize what makes individuals special. By listening and seeing other people's experiences, we have a chance to connect in a surprising and intimate way. I want to recognize those lines that draw us together. We've had spiritual stories. Also, sometimes they're funny. Or sad. Or just so... Understandable. And this feeling of understanding is what I love about Confabulation -- that it can be a place from where community grows.

I won't be there this Friday night, when my good friend -- and Confabulation co-conspirator -- Meg Deere, takes the reins of this thing. But I hope you are. And I look forward to hearing all about it.

Confabulation presents: Just Dance
3997 St. Laurent
January 13th
6$ Suggested donation

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