‘Let’s Fight’ will be theme for third installment of Story Hole.
From staff reports
Adrag queen, a social worker, an oil-and-gas employee, and a comedian will all be part of the cast for Story Hole: “Let’s Fight!”
The third installment of the queer storytelling showcase is set for April 5 at Rec Room.
Since its premiere in June 2017, Story Hole has twice presented a collection of local LGBTQ storytellers to sold-out crowds. Stories have ranged from hilarious to heartfelt, and from serious to sexual.
The showcase creates a safe space for queer voices to be heard, and the cast is representative of the diverse groups that make up Houston’s LGBTQ community. The cast for “Let’s Fight!” includes Jenny Block, Aaron Flores, Crimson Jordan, Hoja Lopez, Melanie Pang, Brian Redmond, Eric Schell, and Darius “Blackberri” Vallier.
“LGBTQ people have spaces for socializing with each other, like bars and clubs, or for supporting each other, like clinical settings for therapy,” Pang says. “I think a storytelling platform like Story Hole is important because there aren’t many spaces in between [where we can] be both socially informal and seriously vulnerable.”
Vulnerability is a component that all of the storytellers bring to Story Hole. Cast members are not usually professional performers, but regular members of the community who have funny or interesting stories to share. For many, this marks their first time sitting before an audience and relating a piece of themselves.
“I don’t consider myself a performer, so this is definitely a first,” Brian Redmond says.
Redmond has attended the last two installments of Story Hole, but this will be his first as a storyteller.
“I think storytelling brings people together and builds community,” Redmond says. “It’s easy, today, to isolate ourselves. Coming together to hear others’ experiences can help us see what we have in common with people we wouldn’t normally find commonalities with.”
Although the majority of the cast are first-timers, one performer, Hoja Lopez, is making her third appearance after two hilarious appearances. Lopez is a seasoned local comedian and hosts her own popular podcast, Relationsh!t, with co-host Stacey Daniels.
“Houston is such a large city, and while our Pride and nightlife are poppin’, I definitely feel like we lack grassroots art and comedy events that are queer-centric,” Lopez says. “To feel a part of something through storytelling is healing—and flat-out fun.”
Block, a nationally published author and performer, says she is excited to join the family of story-holers.
“I love the idea of Story Hole,” Block says. “I am a writer and performer by trade, so this has been something I have wanted to be a part of from the very first time I heard about it.”
The theme is always an important component of the show. All of the evening’s stories connect to it, either loosely or literally.
“Let’s Fight!” will feature stories that touch on a struggle or confrontation encountered by the storyteller. In some cases, those confrontations may inadvertently play out on stage. For the first time, one of the stories will be told simultaneously by a couple, Eric Edward Schell and Crimson Jordan.
“I’m not used to sharing the spotlight in a theatrical experience,” Schell says. “As Bobbie Adler from Will and Grace said, ‘I always have to be the star—God cast me in the role.’”
“I want to make sure that I tell my story in a genuine way [so that, together with my partner, we] effectively communicate it to the audience,” Jordan says. “I’d like people to have a takeaway without actively attempting to teach anyone anything.”
A principal component of Story Hole is that it allows the LGBTQ community to share outside of a political or educational context. This was one of the main drivers for show creator Ryan Leach.
“After the 2016 election, I felt like I needed a space to be queer and to blow off some steam,” Leach says. “I was tired of my ‘gayness’ being politicized. I felt we needed a space where we could come together and laugh about our wonderful, beautiful, and sometimes boring lives as queer people. When the first shows sold out and the reaction was so positive, I realized that it really touched on something that the community needed.”
Leach plans to develop Story Hole into a podcast.
“What I have learned from producing Story Hole is that LGBTQ people and allies want to share and hear our collective stories,” Leach says. “It’s a beautiful thing. I want to spread the Story Hole gospel.”
What: Story Hole: “Let’s Fight!” hosted by Ryan Leach and Kathryn Way
When: 8 p.m., April 5
Where: Rec Room, 100 Jackson Street
Tickets: $10, available at RecRoomArts.org