Image: Credit: Courtney Phelps.

WHEN was the last time you were told a story?

Not just a gossip session over a cup of coffee, or a tall tale told sidled up to the bar at a pub, but an honest, sit-on-that-chair-and-put-your-iPhone-away story?

Of course, storytelling is as old as language itself, but now groups are popping up all over Australia – and the world – which seek to engage the community through that very act.

Yarn: Stories Spun in Brisbane is one such collective, bringing people together in various venues around the city to listen to true stories told without notes to a live audience.

Co-creator Jessica Miller, who was recently shorted for the 2013 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, said she was inspired to form the group last year after listening to podcasts of The Moth, a popular storytelling series launched in New York City in 1997.

The “one or two shows” the Yarn founders initially envisaged have since grown to a total of seven packed-out live events, including one held in someone’s lounge room.

“There’s a lot of great stuff happening in Brisbane at the moment and we are really thrilled to be a part of that,” said Miller.

“The response of Brisbane audiences to Yarn has been quite overwhelming and we are really grateful that people in Brisbane have been so responsive to the event.”

Now with over 500 followers on Facebook and a first anniversary show in the works, it seems the nostalgic novelty of the events are exciting Brisbane locals as much as the creators.

Georgina Horsburgh, 25, was one of the storytellers featured at the most recent Yarn event with the musical theme “For the Record”, and told a story about her travels through South America.

“I was really interested in the challenge of live storytelling,” Georgina said.

“That is, trying to be honest and engaging at the same time. The experience was pretty intoxicating for me – although I can’t speak for the audience!”

Yarn storyteller Georgina Horsburgh keeps her audience rapt. (Photo credit: Courtney Phelps)

Storyteller Georgina Horsburgh entertains the Yarn audience at the Southside Tea Room on May 2, 2013. Credit: Courtney Phelps

With storytellers from all walks of life, Miller said it was always fascinating to see how individuals interpreted the theme of the night and made it their own.

“Sometimes we get stories that respond to the theme very differently and other times we get stories that really take up similar ideas and are almost in conversation with each other on the night. Both are fantastic.”

Miller happily admits that while she has the utmost respect for those who conquer the open microphone, she has never told a story at Yarn herself.

“I would be terrified!” she said.

“I am always amazed at the talent and bravery of the tellers but I have never had the nerve to tall a story myself.”

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

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