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Blow Hard

Why do we tell stories? “Because it’s how we understand the world. It’s how we learn. It’s how we form memories” says Stephanie Domet. Domet is one of the four storytellers who have brought Blow Hard to Halifax. Blow Hard is a public storytelling session that happens about once every three months. 
For the cost of five dollars, there is food and plenty of entertainment.  Founded by: Stephanie Domet, Andrea Dorfman, Tara Doyle and Jackie Torrens, they wanted the public to experience the gift of a told story. The evening also serves to give storytellers, both amateur and professional,  a chance to ply their craft.

Storytelling is how people pass on their knowledge and wisdom. It is the craft which formed our creation myths. Though ancient, the experience of a told story is mesmerizing. Even though society revels in 3D movies on the IMAX screen, the experience of one person relaying a story to a handful of other people is as captivating as the newest media form. Andrea Dorfman, another of Blow Hards organizers, shares that storytelling “made me connect to different people in a different way. It’s profound.” From these recognitions, Blow Hard was born.

On a cold December morning, three of the four Blow Hard organizers met with me at the Smiling Goat cafe on South Park St. in Halifax. Getting three storytellers around one table meant a symphony of sounds - there was no need to ask questions. The three women recounted there experiences and there thoughts.

The women shared how anything goes at Blow Hard. But there are two rules that storytellers should adhere to.The first rule is that the told story must be true and the second rule is that no written notes are allowed. However, if a storyteller chooses not to heed the advice of the organizers, the only repercussion is that the audience’s experience is diminished. With paper “you’re not telling a story anymore, you’re reading it. There’s almost a glass wall [between you and the audience]” explains Tara Doyle.

A Blow Hard evening consists of four prepared stories, each told by a different presenter. These are four members of the community who have prepared a tale to last about ten minutes. Each storyteller is introduced by a member of the organizing team who may take the opportunity to recount a story themselves. As a half-time show, Blow Hard opens the microphone to the audience so that anyone itching to tell a story has a forum to do so.

Blow Hard advertises by word of mouth (appropriately) and through their website. Organizers are involved because they love the craft - not for any monetary return.

The Blow Hard session held on Monday, November 2nd focused on the topic of Sibling Rivalry.

Veronica Simmons was the first presenter. That evening, Simmons detailed how her perception of her sister influenced who she became and how she later had to work to overcome the internal stereotyping that she had done.

“I try to pick a couple of people in the audience to connect with and gage their reactions to what I am saying,” said Simmons. It is this connection formed between the audience and the storyteller which helps make the evening so magically intimate.

Organizer Stephanie Domet notes that it’s this intimacy which Blow Hard tries to capture. Each evening’s performance is different and each session is different. But it is always extraordinary.

Blow Hard has had about 20 sessions over the course of four years. The 80 people in attendence in November was probably the biggest crowd the event ever attracted. Held at Fred’s on Agricola street in Halifax, Domet says if the evening attracts an even bigger audience they will have to start turning people away. “The space right now is perfect. We wouldn’t want to move anywhere.” ~ Jen Powley

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