Storytellers narrate dramatic tales of personal brushes with danger

Student storytellers gathered in Goodrich Hall on Friday night for the Dialogue ONE festival, in which performers told true life anecdotes to their peers. The festival, hosted by Omar Sangare, assistant professor of theatre, centered on “danger” as a theme for the solo performers’ stories. 

The personal stories in Goodrich that night ranged in topic from car crashes to childhood rollerblading adventures to 30-day canoeing trips in Canada, but each tale held one common thread aside from the overarching theme of “danger”: emotion. Whether told in sadness or humor or astonishment, every anecdote served as an – albeit brief – conduit through which the audience of mostly students could glimpse a lesser-known facet of their fellow classmates’ lives.

Naomi Patterson ’15 set the scene of her short but sweet story with a simple vignette of herself and a friend crossing the street. “My friend … I love her, but she’s crazy. But I like having crazy friends. There’s never a dull moment,” Patterson said. “It was a busy street, lots of motorcycles, taxis cars, mini-buses … It’s the mini-buses you have to look out for.” Patterson recalled how, in her impatience to cross, her friend pushed her directly into the path of a moving bus – and as Patterson stood motionless and helpless, her same friend pulled her back. “All I could think was, you pushed me in front of a moving bus! I settled on a combination of furious and grateful,” Patterson said. “I’m sort of glad she pushed me in front of that bus. Because now I know that she’ll always be there to pull me back.”

Alexander Scyocurka ’14 told a gripping and suspenseful story of a time when he and some friends went to a party at a hotel. He advised his younger brother to stay home, but later that night, his brother was in a car accident near the hotel after having driven drunk to get there. Scyocurka spoke of the frantic, hysterical phone call he received from his mother that night. “I’d never heard her like this in all my life,” he said, recalling how he had rushed out of the party and to the crash site, where he found out that his brother was fortunately still alive.

Several other performers talked about experiences in car crashes, and Andrew Desrosiers ’13 used his time on stage to convey a powerful message – with plenty of sound effects and simple sentences – about the time he fell asleep on the highway and crashed into the guardrail. “Somehow I didn’t get hurt, I was lucky,” he said. “But you keep your eyes on the road.”

For some, details were key. “I still have a scar on my left hip. Never have I ever been afraid of water,” began Kelsey Roggensack ’13, a member of the women’s swim team. She went on to describe the time she was thrown out of her boat while whitewater rafting, accentuating the danger of the story with a nervous tone and shallow breaths. “I did everything I could to keep my head above the water,” Roggensack said. “Eventually I washed out on the bank. No stuff, no trip-mates: I was alone. To this day, I think twice every time I get in the water. I still have a scar on my left hip.”

The story that Cameron Susk ’12 told was undoubtedly the most creative of the night. He began with a dialogue between a man and his girlfriend that involved the girlfriend’s suspicion of the man having been with another woman the previous night. Susk illustrated both roles, but only spoke the part of the boyfriend, leaving us to fill in the obvious blanks. As the dialogue continued, the boyfriend’s story evolved and revealed itself as a complete falsehood from which the boyfriend could not escape.

Matthew Conway ’15 also told a memorable story, but it stood out for a different reason. During his sophomore year in high school, he acted in a play about a University of Miami student who was killed because he was gay. And then the performance received some uninvited visitors. “We didn’t know hatred until they came,” Conway said of a church group who traveled from Kansas to Massachusetts to protest the show. Rehearsals were on lockdown, and “the night of the performance was surreal,” Conway said. “Despite the very real possibility that you were in physical danger the moment you stepped on that stage, the real danger was on the inside, the nagging fear that if you heard the rhetoric one too many times, you might just start believing it.”

The Dialogue ONE festival closed with a lengthy presentation by Ilya Khodosh ’08, a former theatre major and Dialogue ONE participant. Khodosh talked about his former fears of reaching his peak of success in college and searching for identity and passion later in life. Unfortunately, by this time in the night few audience members remained in Goodrich. While every story deserved attention and proved interesting, this festival featured nearly 40 performers and spanned just about three hours. To maintain the attention and interest of the crowd, this event definitely should have been split over both weekend nights.

Sevonna Brown/Staff photoGrapher Taylor Fitzgerald ’12 acts out a personal anecdote during the Dialogue ONE festival of student performers on Friday night.