One of the most fascinating parts of the human condition is our need to be storytellers. It is beautiful, simple and one of our best traits. The Arizona Storytellers Project is an amazing grass roots collective that brings drama and laughs to the valley with nothing more than the voices of its members. For an inspiring and unique evening out, follow up with the Arizona Storytellers Project for their latest news and events.
Most stories require great drama, unexpected conflict or terrifying tension to create the kind of catharsis listeners love at the end of a satisfying yarn.
But Eleanor Gobrecht’s true, first-person story didn’t have that kind of big moment when she told it Monday night at the Phoenix Theatre as part of the Arizona Storytellers Project. She told a simple story that got a super-long applause from a sold-out crowd of more than 240, and that closed the night of true, first-person stories with a heart-warming, unexpected finish.
The 86-year-old former sailing expert and University of Southern California professor recounted a story about a totally perfect trip down the Mexican coast and across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii in 1969. The crowd sat rapt as Gobrecht, in a coordinating white jacket and capris, told the story of Trade Winds at her back, waves pushing the boat along steadily, and generous Mexican fisherman and their families.
“It was just a wonderful, wonderful time,” Gobrecht said of her first trip across the Pacific with her lifelong partner.
That trip taught her, she told the audience, that if you do the right things, and trust your planning, things will work out fine, as long as you keep going. And, she said, there will be times in life when things go unaccountably well, and it’s best not to wonder why or investigate too much into how.
Gobrecht was one of seven community members who shared stories at Phoenix Theatre about adventures in the outdoors and the lessons they learned as part of The Republic’s regular storytelling nights. The stories varied from everyday adventures such as biking and hiking to more daring ones such as canyoneering.
The night’s storytellers were Republic news reporter Dennis Wagner, outdoors reporter Bob Young, photojournalist David Wallace and community storytellers Josey Borman, Gobrecht, Margaret Smith and Matt Storrs.
Other highlights included:
– Learning what foreboding joy means, as explained by Borman via superstar academic Brene Brown, and how it applies to lots of moms on lots of family vacations.
– Learning just how far a young man will go to win over his future in-laws from the apparently unflappable Storrs.
– Learning that one Republic staffer’s idea of a good time is to dangle in canyons, squeeze between rock cracks, swim in silt-filled, murky pools and tromp through the desert while carrying a 70-pound pack, according to Wallace.
Since 2011, the Arizona Storytellers Project has coordinated more than 70 nights of true stories, told live, in which artists, community leaders and everyday Phoenix residents prepare a brief, first-person story on a theme, addressing it literally or metaphorically.
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