Lina Benich ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
In the introduction of the panel performance “2nd Story: Flash Back to the 90s”, Host Earliana “Earl” McLaurin explained to the audience that the first story is told into the microphone, and the second by you, to friends, family, or even the person sitting next to you. This kind of organic storytelling values the contributions of everyone, even the listener, and the performance embodied this style, bringing the audience back in time to three very different interpretations of three storytellers’ experiences in the nineties. Coya Paz, Sahar Mustafah, and Bobby Biedrzycki pulled the audience into their tales, creating a verbal representation of their written work. Because of their fascinating characters and situations, the audience was pulled in just as any reader would be.
Coya Paz told a story familiar to many people, but with her very own 90s twist: the trials and tribulations of high school. In a piece that gripped the audience from the beginning and had them laughing to themselves through the whole story, Paz set up a story of awesome proportions as she tells the story of her vegetarian views on animals, her rowdy bus, and all of the things that could only happen in the 90s. Her no-nonsense mother who sticks up for any and every cause under the sun, her two best friends who make note-passing an art, an ornery biology teacher, and a host of other characters are part of what made this story so relatable and funny, and the impeccable structure brought back all of the odd comments in the beginning to make perfect sense in the end.
Sahar Mustafah also talked about late-teenhood, but an experience that made her unique in her last few weeks of high school. Mustafah was married and attended prom with her husband. She spoke of her unconventional attendance at this high school staple with levity and charm, making a situation that most people would cringe at something a little less alien. Mustafah spoke smartly, kindly, and deeply, making the audience unaware of how much the story had touched them until she was finished. For her, the situation was key, so detailing the dresses and bad music, and the freedom and fear she felt, gave the story gravity and made the world she created feel real.
Bobby Biedrzycki told a story centered on finding a place in the world. It began with his ecstasy-fueled power circle with his friends at a rave in New York City, but it became clear that the events of the story wasn’t the point of his telling it. The night at the rave was merely a springboard to explain how lost he and his friends felt, swirling and dancing in an enormous city, and in a time when the mainstream culture didn’t understand or accept what they are. Biedrzycki’s point seemed to lie in the importance of finding a place to be and someone to be, a quality that many children and teens of the 90s felt strongly about, and while his personal experience was a bit off-the-wall and his point meandered, that feeling was what Biedrzycki reminded the audience of.
2nd Story is an organization that holds storytelling events across the Chicagoland area, and their anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious By A Low-Flying Duck, is available through their website along with their podcast.