Nerd Nite. Orlando Story Club. PechaKucha. Storytelling opportunities are all around the city if you know where to look. Each one has its own format and following, some are tied to specific locations, and a few have national and international roots.
Why so many options?
“Storytellers need a place to tell stories; open-minded spaces where diverse people and topics can flourish,” says local author Aquanza Cadogan. “Having the opportunity to talk at many of these events has changed my perspective and love for the city of Orlando.”
Cadogan should know. He’s an alumnus of Nerd Nite and PechaKucha, and he turned his venue at Art in Odd Places into an opportunity to get on a literal soapbox to interact with people. His next presentation will be on December 12 at Orlando Story Club’s Championship Showdown.
Hosted at the Abbey downtown, most of Orlando Story Club’s events feature 10 local storytellers who are chosen at random and given five minutes to tell their stories to the audience. And it’s an audience that appreciates presenters of any experience level.
“It’s very much a live show, so anything goes,” says Danielle Ziss. She and Bobby Wesley share organizing and hosting duties for OSC, which is produced by the Downtown Arts District. “And we’re very supportive and welcoming. We love first-time storytellers. The audience is always super supportive of anyone who gets on stage,” she said.
“Our audience is quite diverse,” adds Wesley. “You might become friends with someone you may have otherwise not met, and it opens the door for understanding the Orlando community so much better.”
Like Orlando Story Club, PechaKucha (pronounced pe-tcha-ku-tcha) Orlando got its start after someone saw an event in another city and asked, “Why don’t we have this in Orlando?”
It was Eddie Selover who attended PechaKucha Tampa and had that thought. And because of his efforts, PechaKucha Orlando began in 2010.
The 24th edition of the event happens on November 9 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, its home since 2016. From 31 people at the first PechaKucha to an average of 500 attendees since moving to DPAC, it has come a long way. Selover chalks that up to the inherent drama of the format.
“Our presenters have 20 slides, and 20 seconds per slide,” says Selover. “The awareness of the passage of time really heightens the experience and draws you into the story being told.”
Event formats vary, offering something for both speakers and audience members. Nerd Nite presenters have 10 to 15 minutes on an area of their expertise. At Script Orlando, speakers discuss their careers, community involvement, and inspiration in both areas.
For the speakers and the organizers, these are labors of love with most everyone donating their time and expertise to bringing together an incredible experience.
In the case of Orlando Story Club, the $5 entry fees are donated to a different local charity every event. Ticket sales for PechaKucha Orlando, also a nonprofit, go toward the venue and crew fees along with marketing the event.
“This is community-based storytelling,” says Wesley. “I like stories because I feel like that’s how we connect and learn from each other as people. It’s really rewarding to hear people who have had totally different life experiences. Regardless of where they came from, you’ll be surprised how much you can connect to someone’s life story or experience.”
Date: Every Tuesday night
Time 7:30 p.m.
Date: Wednesday, November 7
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Nerd Nite Orlando
Dates: Thursday, November 8 and Thursday, December 13
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Date: Friday, November 9
Time: 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Orlando Story Club
Date: Wednesday, December 12
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Nick Georgoudiou is host of “To a Certain Degree,” a radio show on WPRK-FM where he interviews local artists, writers, entrepreneurs, musicians, educators and many others. The live show broadcasts Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m., and a podcast version is available on toacertaindegree.com and on platforms like iTunes and Google Play. You can also see him at PechaKucha on November 9.