Picture this: seventeen or eighteen grownups and older kids sitting comfortably in a living room, some on sofas, some in armchairs, some on kitchen chairs, a few relaxing on cushions on the floor, all listening to stories, then chatting about their own stories or about how the art of storytelling is not lost. A dog or two snore nearby. Every now and then somebody gets up quietly to graze at the table of goodies in the kitchen or to fill a glass. Maybe there's a break in the stories for snacks or maybe the performance runs for an hour or even more with no break. Maybe there are two or three storytellers tag-teaming. When the guests leave, they linger at the door to talk more about the evening and the connections that were made. They ask to be kept on the list for the next house concert.
That's the flavor of a storytelling house concert, in my experience.
Here are some other considerations when planning a house concert, whether you're the storyteller or the host.
- Find a place for the storyteller to stand or sit where the sight lines are best.
- If guests have hearing issues, use a sound system. I know, it's a living room, but of course you want everyone to be able to hear.
- Invite more guests than you think will come, at least the first time, as some adults think they might not like storytelling. The second time, they are sure they do like storytelling and they talk it up everywhere.
- Be clear in the invitations about the age range of listeners (that is, if young kids are welcome).
- Send out invitations about three weeks in advance, with a reminder the week before. Facebook works well for invitations.
- If the storyteller is performing near the front door, provide an alternate entry for guests who arrive late. At my house, I ran Christmas lights from the front door to the back, with a sign requesting late-comers to follow the lights, in order to avoid interruptions.
- If the house concert is really a garden concert or a campfire concert, discuss this with the storyteller.
- Let guests know in advance if they will be expected to pay or contribute in some way. You may have a set fee, you may pass the hat, or the program might be free. The performer and host will arrange this in advance.
- Potluck? Perhaps. Unless the house concert is at my own house, I don't provide the food or drinks, just the stories. One good friend had the house concert catered. Yum!
- Have fun.
I love performing at house concerts! If you're in the Kansas City area and would like to host one, let me know. If you're a storyteller who gives house concerts, feel free to leave your tips in the comments section.