Frequently Asked Questions for Storytellers

Welcome to The Story Collider, and thank you for sharing your story with us! Below are some of the questions that frequently come up as storytellers go through our production process.

Before the show…

How do I prepare for the show?

Your producers will work with you to develop your story over the course of several drafts. These drafts may take whatever form is most helpful to you. Most people choose to write them out, but if you prefer, you could also write a detailed outline or record yourself speaking. If you struggle to write conversationally, recording yourself speaking may be more helpful.

What is the time commitment involved?

This varies widely, depending on the story’s stage of development and the storyteller’s level of experience, but excluding rehearsal (which is about two hours long) and show day, storytellers should expect to spend somewhere between five and ten hours preparing for the show.

Do I have to take my producers’ notes?

This story is yours, and only you can decide how to tell it. Our producers are there to help you tell the very best version of your story. We do require, however, that your story fit our format: It must be a story, with a beginning, middle, and end, and it must connect in some way to science. If you feel uncomfortable with any of the notes you receive from your producer, feel free to reach out to our artistic director, Erin Barker, at erin@storycollder.org.

Is there any general advice you can share?

Yes! You can find our basic advice for storytellers here.

How long should my story be?

The Story Collider aims for its stories to be around ten minutes long (approximately 1,500 words when written out). Please try to make sure your story is no longer than fourteen minutes by rehearsal. That said, we don’t time stories during the show, and we urge storytellers not to focus too much on time while on stage.

What is rehearsal like?

Rehearsal is usually two days before the show at an off-site location (though your producer will provide exact date, time, and location). It’s an opportunity for all of the storytellers to practice out loud, in front of a small audience, before the big night. You are allowed to bring your notes to rehearsal, but please try to be off book if you can.

Who is going to be in the audience?

Our audience varies from show to show. Our Home Stage audiences tend to be diverse, and made up of adults who want to have a drink and listen to stories. This means that they are overwhelmingly supportive of our storytellers. We do not have a stand-up comedy crowd with hecklers, nor do we have an audience that expects scientific talks and spends the show taking notes on the back of their lanyard.

Can I use profanity or talk about sex and drugs on stage?
The Story Collider is a show made for adults, by adults. We are interested in sharing stories from all over the human experience, and sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll are definitely a part of the human experience. Short answer: Hell yeah, go ahead!

On show day...

Am I allowed to bring a guest to the show?

Yes, every storyteller has one plus-one. Please give the name of your guest to your producer, and they will make sure their name is on the door list for the show.

Does The Story Collider allow notes or visuals such as PowerPoint slides on stage?

No. We believe that true, personal stories are most impactful when told in a conversational way, like you would to a friend over a drink. We suggest that, rather than memorizing word for word, you memorize key lines or transitions in your story and use them as a guide. If you are nervous about losing your place, feel free to bring a notecard outline in your back pocket, just in case. Most storytellers who do this never take the card out of their pocket. (If you have a serious condition or injury that affects memory, please consult your producer about other options.)

Is there a dress code?

Nope! We advise wearing whatever you feel comfortable in, or whatever makes you feel like yourself.

When do I need to arrive at the venue on show day?

Your producers will ask you to arrive at the venue early for soundcheck (typically this is one hour before show time, though your producer will provide you with the exact time). Soundcheck is an opportunity for us to make sure we have the levels right for our recording, but also a chance for you to get a sense of how it feels on stage.

What is the stage setup like?

Our stage is set with a microphone in a stand and nothing else. We ask that our storytellers speak directly into the microphone and don’t touch it or take it out of the stand, in order to ensure a quality recording. It will most likely be fairly dark in the room during the show, and depending on the venue, you may be looking into bright stage lights and be unable to see most of the audience beyond the front row.

What if I have a disability?

The Story Collider is happy to accommodate storytellers with disabilities. Please let your producer know if you require a wheelchair ramp, a sign language interpreter, a chair or stool on stage, etc.

Why do I have to sign a release?

At the show, or before it, your producer will give you a release to sign, giving The Story Collider permission to use the recording of your story. This release says, essentially, that you own your story, and we own the recording we’re making that night. Regardless of whether or not you sign the release, we will still check with you before we post your story. Since we are still a small organization, we are unable to accommodate edits to the release. If you choose not to sign the release as it is, you can still tell your story at the show, but it will not be considered for the podcast.

After the show…

How do I receive my honorarium?

Starting in January 2018, The Story Collider began offering $25 (USD) honoraria to storytellers, and this amount increased to $50 (USD) in 2019. One to five days after your show, you will receive an email from our artistic director with a link to a demographic and feedback survey (which you may fill out or decline), followed by a link to process your honorarium. If you would like to waive part or all of your honorarium, you will have the option to donate it to our pro bono programming. For more on honoraria, see our blog post.

Does every story go on the podcast?

Our weekly podcast features two stories recorded at our live shows in every episode, for a total of 104 every year. Whereas, in a given year, we produce somewhere between 50 and 60 live shows, each featuring five storytellers, for a total of… a lot more (hey, we’re not mathematicians). So roughly one-third of the stories at our live shows appear on the podcast, based on a nomination process conducted by our pool of screeners, producers, and volunteers.

What determines which stories go on the podcast?

If a storyteller has signed The Story Collider’s release form and the audio is deemed podcast-level quality, their story will be sent to volunteers and members of the Story Collider team for screening. Taking their guidance into account, The Story Collider’s artistic director, Erin Barker, selects stories based on relevance, story arc, presentation, and whether it fits thematically with another story to form an episode.

How can I find out if my story has been chosen for the podcast?

If your story is selected, The Story Collider’s artistic director will contact you via email to ask for your approval. We never post someone’s story without checking in first. Keep in mind, podcast episodes of The Story Collider are typically planned far in advance, so it might be months before your story is selected.

How are stories edited for the podcast?

The Story Collider edits mostly for sound quality and only occasionally for content, as editing conversational speech is challenging and moreover, we want your story to reflect your authentic voice. If content edits are made, they are typically just to cut a line or small section for time. If an edit is required, we will consult you on the change when we contact you about the podcast.

Can I get a copy of my recording?

Yes! Regardless of whether we air your story on the podcast, you can contact our deputy director at nisse@storycollider.org to request a copy of your raw audio file. (Please allow one week after your show date for processing.) You may share this recording with anyone you like. However, if your story is in consideration for the podcast, we may ask you to wait to share it publicly.

Can I get a copy of the photos from the show?

Yes! Just email our deputy director at nisse@storycollider.org to request your photos. (Please allow at least five days after the show, for processing.) You are welcome to post or publish the photos publicly, as long as you credit The Story Collider and the photographer, whose name will be provided to you.

What if I have feedback about my Story Collider experience?

Please feel free to contact The Story Collider’s artistic director, Erin Barker, at erin@storycollider.org. You may also contact the chair of our board’s diversity committee, Tracey Guthrie, at tracey_guthrie@brown.edu.

How can I tell more stories?

If you’ve caught the storytelling bug, please check out our recommendations of other storytelling shows and podcasts to get involved in!