Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tell Me A Story!

Hello! It is I, Nicole, project facilitator for Opening Minds, Opening Doors (OMOD) at VSA Texas. I’m here to tell you about some kick butt entertainment in Austin, and it's entertainment that you too can participate in: STORYTELLING! Recently I investigated several storytelling venues for our OMOD speakers, and boy was I impressed at the selection! And it's all around Austin, at FREE or affordable prices. Yes, I said free and well worth it too. So if you’re tired of the movie scene and want to hear real personal stories from your fellow Austinites or tell some of your own, then I encourage you to check out one of these six storytelling events:

(Note: I have primarily investigated the physical accessibility of these venues, specifically the entrance and wheelchair seating, so please contact the individual event organizers for information regarding parking, bathroom accessibility, and other accommodations. Stories at these events are also intended for adults, so there may be some themes unsuitable for children. Also, unless otherwise noted, to tell a story at one of these events, you must contact the individual event organizers to sign up.)

1. The Living Room

Review: Indoors, a little pricey but worth it. Stories go on a little longer than I would like (10-15 minutes), but still good usually. Typically an older crowd. The "stage area" is wheelchair accessible.
When: Every first Saturday of the month at 7:30 PM
Where: Scottish Rite Theater at 207 West 18th Street, Austin, TX 78701 (Note: the venue might changs, so make sure to check the Facebook page or contact the organizer before going.)
Cost: $15, cash or check ONLY
For more information: Visit, send an email to, or call 512-441-6085.

Image courtesy of Backyard Story Night.
(Description: a crowd of about 100 people seated in foldable
chairs and oriented toward the Scoot Inn's outdoor stage,
where a blond woman in bright clothes tells a story.)

2. Backyard Story Night

Review: Excellent storytelling (5-6 minute limit per story; biggest crowd by far), outdoor seating, and there is usually a food trailer to order food and drinks. Or you can bring your own snacks! Be sure to also bring your own chair or blanket to sit on. Unfortunately, the stage is not wheelchair accessible.
When: Every other month, usually the first Sunday. Doors open at 7:00 PM. Show starts at 8:00 PM. (Note: the next show will be Saturday, August 21st, so it's a good idea to check the site for accurate and up-to-date details.)
Where: Historic Scoot Inn, 1308 East 4th Street, Austin, TX 78702
Cost: Suggested donation to a different non-profit each event. The amount is up to you, so give what you can.

The stage at Testify before showtime.
(Description: Two female sign language interpreters dressed in black sign to each other.
To the right of the interpreters is an elevated stage on which a man plays acoustic guitar.
Also on stage is an empty stool and a microphone stand. Behind the stage the word
"testify" in black text is projected over a white screen. Red curtains cover the walls on
either side of the stage. A disco ball hangs in the foreground.

3. Testify

Review: Intimate setting. Must be 21 or older. You can order drinks and food from your table or the bar. Mostly younger to middle-aged crowd. Stories are on the longer side like The Living Room, but compelling. Sadly, the stage is not wheelchair accessible, but ASL Interpretation was provided at the last two shows by SOULumination Interpreters, so that's a plus!
When: Every last Thursday of the month. Doors open at 7:00 PM. Show starts at 7:30 PM.
Where: Spider House Ballroom, 2908 Fruth Street, Austin, TX 78705
Cost: $5 cash/$6 for credit cards
For more information: Visit or

4. Central Texas Storytelling Guild

Review: Smallest group (usually about 8-10 people), but you will hear some good stories and you can sign up to tell your own story when you arrive. The "stage area" is wheelchair accessible. No time limit specified.
When: Every second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM
Where: Episcopal Church of Resurrection, Parish Hall, 2008 Justin Lane, Austin, TX 78757
Cost: Free or by donation
For more information: Visit, send an email to, or call 512-258-3345.

5. Beyond Our Backyard Storytelling

Review: Great outdoor venue by Town Lake! Light wheelchair off-roading possible but avoidable. You can bring snacks, drinks, and your dog. In the least, bring a chair or blanket to sit on. Stories are internationally-focused, 5-7 minutes max. The "stage area" appeared to be wheelchair accessible, but you probably want to see it before you sign up to tell a story and/or bring a strong friend or attendant to help you if necessary.
When: The inaugural Beyond Our Backyard Storytelling event was Sunday, May 1st at 7:30 PM, but the next event has not yet been scheduled. Check their Facebook group for updates.
Where: Hostel International Austin, 2200 S Lakeshore Blvd, Austin, TX 78741 (Located in the back)
Cost: Free

Image courtesy of Hyde Park Storytelling.
(Description: A man dressed in black with a white hoodie stands on an elevated porch
serving as a stage illuminated in green light and tells his story to a crowd of about 100 people
seated cozily on blankets on the ground in a backyard. Audience members at left clap.
Fiesta style lights hang in the air over the audience.)

6. Hyde Park Storytelling

Review: Outdoors, in an actual backyard, so wheelchair users: brace yourselves for some light off-roading. It can also get pretty crowded and tight, so arrive early to get a good space. Bring your blanket or chair to sit on. You can also bring snacks, drinks, and your dog (hey, dogs like stories too, you know). Stories are 5-7 minutes. Only downsides: neither the stage nor bathroom are wheelchair accessible, but it is still a fine venue to see other storytellers!
When: Every other month, the last Saturday of the month. Seating starts at 7:00 PM. Stories start at 8:00 PM.
Where: 5001 Duval Street, Austin, TX 78751
Cost: Free
For more information: Visit

And of course, you can always join us for our monthly Lion and Pirate Open Mic at Malvern Books, which we co-host with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and where you can share stories and other talents in a 100% accessible environment. The choice is yours, but I hope to see you at one of these events soon!

If you have any questions or need assistance signing up to tell a story at one of these events, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below or contact OMOD project coordinator Eric Clow directly at