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Once Upon A Time At Cafe Nine ...

by Paul Bass | Dec 6, 2013 1:20 pm

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Posted to: Arts & Culture, Poetry

It’s a long story.

The story has already taken a year. And it’s just beginning.

The story takes place at cafe nine, the bar/performance space on Crown Street. Local writer Christopher Arnott (a regular Independent contributor) agreed last December to organize a monthly storytelling series there called “Get To The Point!” Since then, local writers and spoken-word-appreciators have flocked there on Monday nights to hear a mix of regular voices (like Craig Gilbert, pictured, who writes Shel Silverstein-style “fables”) and newcomers, all lined up in advance by Arnott.

The crew celebrated its first anniversary with a lively evening Monday. “It’s like a weird freakish thing that happens on Monday night—Have you ever hard it so quiet in cafe nine?” Arnott said to the packed house.

“No!” came the response.

“Thank you,” Arnott continued, “for shutting up.”

That’s what people did for a good three-plus hours—except for the storytellers onstage.

Some, like “I Love New Haven” photographer Chris Randall, brought props. Randall told a story about the pictures he took spelunking in the shuttered English station power plant.

Amid the stories, some verses of poetry were heard (like this whimsical riff by Frank Cohen on civil disobedience). After a lengthy reminiscence about fleeing New Haven narcs in the 1960s and then the Taliban in the 1980s, Orrin Bolton picked up a guitar to sing an up-to-date original number celebrating pot decriminalization and medical marijuana.

Most of the stories seemed to hold people’s interest. For audiences at such showcases, the ultimate hope is to get knocked out by one amazing story that leaps right down into your soul. That moment arrived Monday night when Frank Critelli read a piece recounting phone calls he received throughout his life from his estranged father. Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch it.

“There are definitely some surprises in store for 2014, from special gifts to staged theater events and performance art,” Arnott promised. And, along with surprises, a monthly diet of good honest storytelling.  Click here for more information on the series; email Arnott .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you want to get on stage and tell a story.

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