Amber Forbus, founding member of the live storytelling group That's What She Said, had almost no prior performance experience before her first TWSS show in October 2015.
"The last time I spoke in public ... was to read a verse from the Bible at my sister's wedding, and there were less than 10 people at the ceremony," she says. "I was scared to death, and I mean shaking all over while I read."
That’s What She Said
WHEN — 5:30 p.m. cocktails, 6 p.m. show Sunday
WHERE — Bordinos Restaurant and Wine Bar, 310 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville
COST — $15 (includes appetizers)
She didn't let that fear stop her, though, when she decided that Fayetteville needed a live storytelling show similar to "The Monti," which she had fallen in love with while living for eight years in North Carolina.
"'The Monti' featured very funny stories occasionally, but really it was about people telling their truth, and sometimes that was very sad or very dramatic," says Forbus. "I love live storytelling so much, and since there was no show to attend in Fayetteville that I knew of, Leigh [Wood] and I knew we had to be the first ones to [perform] if we were going to get anyone else to do it."
Forbus and Wood gathered three like-minded friends to perform with them. Using "The Monti" as inspiration, Forbus initially assumed her group would follow pretty closely in those footsteps, but she soon realized that the comic sensibility of the cast she was working with lent itself more to comedic rather than dramatic pieces. "Very quickly, the five of us realized that we loved working on stories together and that we really wanted to make people laugh," she says.
The stories are loosely organized around a show theme, which, for upcoming shows, include "Horrible Bosses: Stories from the Workplace", "Spooky Takes and Nightmare Fodder" and "Holiday Hell."
Apparently, Forbus was not the only person in Fayetteville hankering for live storytelling performances -- the first attempts were met with almost immediate success.
"I think, for Leigh and I both, that it's been a little surprising to find much success at all," says Forbus. "We started off last October with a few friends performing in the show and a few more friends and family that we squished into a hair salon to watch us."
After that, Bordinos quickly offered the troupe a permanent home on Sunday nights. When the first two shows there sold out quickly, the duo secured a second location and now perform at the nightclub C4 for a Thursday night show.
"Our last show of the first season ran twice, once at C4 and once at Bordinos, and we sold out both shows," says Forbus.
Forbus' partner in the project, KUAF membership director and "Vinyl Hour" host Leigh Wood, was enthusiastic about the project from the start.
"I was on board from the minute Amber approached me about this," she says. "She's so passionate about it and has such a clear vision for what she wants the performances to be, to achieve.
"Amber's right, we had no idea there was going to be such a strong reaction. There obviously was an audience here, waiting for something like this."
Forbus and Wood have since picked up five more performers who, Forbus says, have become "permanent fixtures." But finding new storytellers has proven to be difficult.
"We have recruited everyone who has participated in the show, and often it requires a lot of convincing," she admits. "Just last night, I found myself begging a woman I met at one of the shows to perform in October because she has a perfect story, but she is only interested in being in the audience. It is a little scary for people to imagine performing in front of 100 people, and I understand that."
Wood agrees that it can be difficult to perform in front of large audiences.
"The day of the first performance, it hit me that I'm going to have to stand up in front of an audience of mostly strangers and tell them about some of my biggest embarrassments from my childhood," she says. "I was beyond nervous. It's become a little better -- but we're all basically a wreck right before each show."
Forbus says that, eventually, the TWSS cast hopes to be able to perform in other cities like Eureka Springs and Little Rock, but, for now, they're focused on their Fayetteville shows.
"Right now, we are still trying to find more storytellers and be the best we can be here at home."
NAN What's Up on 09/16/2016
Print Headline: That's What She Said!