Boston Book Festival’s annual Lit Crawl is shaping up to be an exciting night of literary discussion. GrownUp StoryTime (GUST), one of this year’s presenters, is an organization that pairs local writers with local performers to bring the story of Boston’s residents to life. BBF had the chance to catch up with Colleen Moore, a producer for GUST Boston, to talk about Lit Crawl and the vibrancy of the community. Register now for this session on June 10th!
BBF: What can Lit Crawl attendees unfamiliar with GUST look forward to from your session?
Colleen: I’ve been producing this show for years and every time I’m surprised by how the stories connect the readers, writers, and community in unpredictable ways. Readers often seek out the writer of a story they are performing, anxious to connect with them personally because they felt so connected to the story. That connected feeling extends to the audience and feeling connected is something many of us are craving with a new hunger this year.
BBF: What is the process of preparing for GUST events like? How do you find and pair up the literature and performers?
Colleen: I spent a lot of time the first few years hustling to find writers and readers, stretching my network, and my co-producers’ networks, to get a diverse mix of stories and performers. It’s gotten a little easier as GUST has grown and word of mouth has helped bring new artists to the community. As for the actual line-up, I read each story out loud and try to imagine the right voice for it, then I go through the reader list to find the perfect match. Sometimes I scour the internet looking for the perfect performer in my social media circles. I like to think I can find a connection point for each pair of writers and readers but sometimes it’s just serendipity and there’s no way I could predict how the reader would relate to the story; for me those are the most magical pairings.
BBF: How does the very local nature of GUST performances impact the events? Do you find that GUST Boston performances take on or reflect regional traits?
Colleen: We are very lucky to live in a part of the US that is not only culturally diverse but also celebrates that diversity. The local nature of the event is almost an oxymoron because it reflects the broad range of cultures that exist here. For example, one writer fought for 13 years in the Ethio-Eritrean war and another is a full time nurse working in HIV care, and they’ve given their stories to performers who identify as students, immigrants, comedians, LGBTQ, etc. I hope that the stories create a common thread and showcase that “local” may mean close in proximity but it can still be diverse in experience.
BBF: As we move back into in-person events and the arts return, how has the past year changed or reinforced GUST’s approaches to performing and storytelling, if at all?
Colleen: A good story brings the emotions of the writer and performer into the audience’s consciousness.What better way to influence how we approach conflict in ourselves and with others than to feel another’s experience? My hope is that through diverse voices, GUST can bring feeling back to some of the conflicts we are working through. This year intensified the need to listen and feel experiences outside of our own. Diversity was always a driver in the curation process but this year has solidified just how important it is. I have to thank Corianna Moffatt as she was the original producer who worked so hard to ensure GUST represented the diversity around us; my hope is to improve and strength that resolve with every show.
We’re so excited to have GrownUp StoryTime Boston join us at Lit Crawl in June! Register here today!