In which I attend 2nd Story & Hogeye Folk Arts @ Lake Street Church
Since starting this blog, I’ve signed up for a lot of Chicago-area book/literary/storytelling groups mailing lists. One of the most interesting groups I’ve gotten emails from has been 2nd story. This storytelling collective has been in action for about five years, and seem to bring in bright talent.
As I made that 2011 Resolution to see one author/literary event a month, and January passed in a flash, I made reservations to attend the January 29th 2nd Story show, which was a collaboration with a folk music group called Hogeye Folk Arts, and which was taking place at the Lake Street Church in Evanston, IL.
After a day of perusing some of the adorable stores in Evanston, and a delicious dinner at Tommy Nevin’s Irish Pub, we headed over to what I was hoping would be a lively, lovely evening of stories and songs.
Arriving at the church, I was immediately put off by the women seated at what I assumed was the ticket table. Now, I’m a regular theatre-goer. I know the drill. When you arrive for a show, you locate the ticket table and get your ticket or check in or however the producing group chooses to run things. One of the women replied briskly, “The doors aren’t open yet.” I could clearly see that, as the closed doors were two inches in front of my face. Fine, whatever. I replied, “Oh, well, I just wondered if I needed to check in or get my tickets,” and the woman replied back with “No. The doors aren’t open yet.”
So yeah, great start right? I went back to my husband and we sat down to wait for these magical doors to open. (It was around then we quickly realized we were the youngest people in attendance who weren’t actually going to be performing or were part of 2nd story. This is truly only a slight exaggeration – there were three kids there as well.)
Once the doors opened, we went in and sat on the far left side of the semi-circle of seats. The venue wasn’t a theatre, but rather a very nice room (with a sassy red accent wall) and there was a nice buzz going on among the gathering crowd, and everything seemed like it would be fine.
Nope. This is when it all goes to hell.
As the show was beginning, and a nice-seeming gentleman was making opening remarks, a woman (who I shall call “Window-Lady”) got up, went to the windows right behind me, and opened one. While I understand that a group of people in a medium-sized room can create some heat, if you open a window in January, someone’s going to get cold. The woman who was seated in front of me merely turned her head to see what was happening, and Window-Lady growled, “I just opened the window!” Window-Lady then proceeded, perhaps out of spite, to open a second window. After that, she placed herself standing directly behind me and watched the show, occasionally talking out loud in what I would not describe as a whisper. At one point, the woman in the seat in front of me (you know, the one who dared turn her head?) got cold, and got up to close one of the windows. Window-Lady’s response? To open the other window as far as it would go. As this was becoming an issue, a well-intentioned lady got up from her seat in the middle of one of the songs and – paraphrasing – told Window-Lady that many of us were freezing. To which Window-Lady responded, “Well, maybe you should think of other people.”
Because, you know, opening a window in January because you’re warm while disregarding the opinions of others is really thinking about other people. Grr.
I’d had enough. Having been to a ton of theatre in my life, nothing irritates me to my core like rude audience members, and this woman took the cake. She wasn’t talking on her cell phone or texting (though she did talk loudly at several points in the evening, to herself I think) but she was infuriating me.
There was an intermission/refreshment break, and my husband and I left. Which is a shame, because the two storytellers we heard – Larry Kearns and Aimee Perkins – were really, truly fantastic. Kearns told a touching, humorous, and insightful tale about a father and his two sons stuck on a houseboat, and Perkins held us in the palm of her hands with her tale of a gruff mechanic seeking acceptance in his new life as a woman in a small Wisconsin town. The band, Seeking Wonderland, were also lovely. This talented ensemble of six young dudes played jazzy/lounge-y tunes that were incredibly catchy, and even rocked out on an accordion. (Kudos as well to the pianist, who was playing the hell out of a piano that was badly in need of a tuning.) I’m sure the third storyteller of the evening – Matt Miller – would have been wonderful, too, but we simply didn’t have it in us.
I’ll be attending 2nd story again, but when they’re back in their natural habitat – at one of the bars and lounges in Chicago. Probably Webster’s Wine Bar, since I’ve always wanted to go there anyway. I can only presume that the ticket takers and window lady were affiliated with the church and not with 2nd city (as Window-lady seemed to be putting out supplies for the refreshments when we were leaving) and so I’m not blaming this clever, hard-working storytelling group for something out of their control.
However, the evening left me cold. This proves once again that even the best performances can be trashed by a bad audience experience.
As an audience member, don’t be rude. You’re not the only person in the world, and the sun doesn’t shine out of any orifice of yours.