A little over a year ago, I came up with an idea that would make our Rochester community stronger using stories. I knew that, fundamentally, the principles were right, but I didn’t quite have enough details to make the sale. I kept at it, pushing and pulling at the design to get to something that would resonate AND work.
Last spring, I bit into a plan to do a show for the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. It gave me a hard deadline – I had to have something to put on stage on the show date – and meant that I could be part of an awesome Rochester event (Did you know that Rochester’s Fringe Festival, in 2012- the first year – was immediately the 5th largest in the US? This year, it doubled in size…) and surrounded by shows that I’m honored to be associated with.
Last week, we put on the show! Wow. Or, as Gordon Ramsay would say: “Wow. Wow, wow, wow.”
First, my thank-yous. Thank you to my marvelous cast – without you the show would have been quite dull and your personal stories were a wonderful addition. Extra thanks to Dave for helping me with all of the stage bits that I had no clue about. Thanks Donald, Dave, Alexis, Judy, and Miriam!
Thank you to the people who contributed stories – to Kate, Davin, Lilly & Rhonda, Micky, Tanvi, Jan, and Joan. Your stories are the heart of Rochester and what made this all possible. Thank you so much for sharing. Thanks to those who contributed stories not used in the show – yours will be part of the trading cards to come!
Thanks also to RAPA, the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival, Joan Hildebrand at the Rochester Public Market, and Voula’s. And to Futons & More, our show sponsor. Thank you to my husband, Joel, for listening throughout the process and helping to gather stories. Thanks to Jenny for bringing refreshments while gathering.
I thought that the project would bring the audience and the story owners and the cast closer together by challenging assumptions. Challenging stereotypes about what types of people live where and what their lives are like. That the show would reveal common emotions and experiences to create one-on-one connections between people.
This did not happen, but that does not mean that I failed.
Because, ultimately, I wanted to draw our community closer together and make it stronger through the use of stories. And what happened at the show was just that. People learned more about Rochester and the types of people in it. They felt a universal common bond of place. They came together as Rochestarians.
That’s wicked cool.
People were excited, emotional, and inspired after the show. From the comment cards that I collected, the one universal improvement mentioned was to include more stories – some mentioned neighborhoods that I have yet to mark on my map.
I am so happy at the success. So excited to be named “Best Community Exchange” in the mid-festival review from our City newspaper. And brimming with ideas for what’s next.
This will move forward and I can’t wait to show you where it can go!