Entertain, Educate, Inspire, Captivate, Amuse, Enlighten, Enthrall – are the keywords that best describe the Storytelling Evenings held chez Bernadette Martin. These are evenings where storytelling enthusiasts gather to mingle, dine then listen to a storyteller who may be a musician, artist, actor, magician, singer, dancer, author, entertainer, designer, chef or photographer. Attendees and storytellers are mostly expats from all walks of life whose common thread is a desire to hear a good story, and share an amazing meal and a convivial evening together.
Why did you decide to launch your Storytelling Evenings in June 2014?
I have been an expat for most of my life, the last 14 years here in Paris. What triggered the launch was, to use the French expression, a “concours de circonstances”. Moving into a larger apartment allowed me to welcome guests chez moi (tapping into my love for entertaining and meeting new people), as well as to cook (designing menus inspired from my travels), and more importantly, to provide entertainment around storytelling…..my passion.
What typically happens during a Storytelling Evening?
Once a month, usually on a Saturday evening, guests arrive, mingle and dine informally over a four course meal and wine. The cuisine varies, tailored to the theme of the evening or to the storyteller’s preference or nationality. This part of the evening gives guests an opportunity to get to know each other and meet the storyteller. After dining, guests are seated and settle into the storytelling part of the evening. However, before the storyteller takes center stage, each guest responds to a question related to the theme. This could be their favorite rock star, opera, magic trick, jazz musician or other. Following this warm up the storyteller begins. The format varies and could be a multimedia presentation, an informal fireside-chat-like setting or an interview scenario. Delightful surprises are often woven into their narratives such as back flips (trapeze artist Imre Bernath), magic tricks (magician Owen Lean), songs (Keri Chryst), jokes (comedian David Martin), and acting techniques (voice coach Vernice Klier). Coffee and a sumptuous dessert are served during a Q & A. After the wrap up guests linger to converse with the storyteller and, if inspired, play the piano and sing.
What topics are covered?
With 25 evenings to date since 2014, I have welcomed over 500 guests where the scope of topics has included art, music, travel, cuisine, lifestyle, re-cycled art, photography, mindfulness, horse therapy, Picasso, angels, architecture, Coco Chanel, Bollywood, Hollywood, opera, Jazz, street performance and more.
Where do you find the storytellers?
Some approach me having heard of these events. However, for the most part they are people I know well. An example is my good friend Ayke Agus a world class pianist, violinist and author of Heifetz as I Knew Him. She will feature when she passes through Paris this year. Others are recommended or people I meet here in Paris. I have the reputation as the “networking queen” with affiliations and membership across a range of professional and cultural associations such as Toastmasters, Professional Women’s Network, Arts & Arena, American University Clubs of France, Paris Women of Success, Project Management Institute, my alumni association Thunderbird School of Global Management and others. Events are where I often meet potential storytellers, where my innate curiosity to hear other people’s stories prompts me to ask if they would like to feature.
What can guests expect from an evening?
For 28 euros guests will be entertained by a storyteller, preceded by a dining experience with wine and a meal (cuisines have featured Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, English, Indian, French, American and fusion) and meet other interesting people from all walks of life and nationalities in a private apartment in Paris.
Where can we find more information about previous and forthcoming evenings?
Details of past and next Storytelling Evenings, FAQ, menu, photo gallery, testimonials and more can be found at www.storytellingevenings.com. Storytellers in the pipeline for 2016 include an improvisation artist, world class violinist, ice skating choreographer and an opera singer.
By Sean Ryan
As an Executive Coach, Communications Consultant and Inbound Marketer Sean works with professionals, companies and organizations in France and internationally. Sean has attended 17 out of 25 Storytelling Evenings. http://www.linkedin.com/in/seanryanparis