Willingham Story Slam @ MUSE Winston-Salem: “The Mamas and the Papas”

The Willingham Story Slam @ MUSE Winston-Salem is a participatory storytelling event. For this month’s Story Slam, the theme is “The Mamas and the Papas.” You’ve had one; maybe you’ve been one. Tell us your best tales of family joy, hilarity, love, loss, you name it. This month’s featured storyteller is Donovan Livingston!
Livingston is an award-winning educator, hip-hop artist, spoken word poet, and public speaker. In 2016, his Harvard Graduate School of Education convocation address Lift Off went viral, reaching over thirteen million views. It was published as a book in 2017. He earned his B.A. in history from the UNC Chapel Hill, an M.A. from Teachers College at Columbia University in Higher and Postsecondary Education, and an Ed.M. in Learning & Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He recently earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research explores the ways in which college students use hip-hop – more specifically, its lyrical and poetic aesthetics – to construct meaning, negotiate (often contested) identities, navigate campus life, create community, and develop a sense of critical consciousness.
Livingston continues his work at Wake Forest today as the Assistant Dean in the Office of University Collaborations, Lecturer in the Department of Education, and a Staff Affiliate of the Program for Leadership and Character. Livingston is also a new father! He’s excited to share some recent fatherhood stories with us.
Stories must be true to the teller’s best recollection, and must be no longer than five minutes. Interpret the prompt as you see fit. Those interested in telling stories can register on EventBrite by selecting the storyteller option. Those who would just like to watch/listen, may register by selecting the audience member ticket. Both options are free, and donations are welcome.
The event will be emceed by Larry Barron, aka LB the Poet, award-winning poet, host, author, and educator. We’ll select eight to ten individuals at random during the program to tell their stories. Register ahead of time for your free ticket and we’ll send you the link on the day of the program. This event is a partnership between the Willingham Theater in the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center and MUSE Winston-Salem.

For more on the partnering organizations:


About the Willingham Slam:

The Willingham Theater Advisory Council (of the Yadkin Arts Council) continues their commitment to storytelling in all of its forms by presenting the Willingham Story Slam – showcasing community members performing a live recollection and reflection from their own life experience – a true story. 

Tell a story or just listen!

Stories are probably as old as language. Come participate in one of the most fundamental and enduring human experiences – live storytelling!

What Happens at Story Slam Events

• Volunteers from the community will vie to enthrall you with a story, told live.

• All stories at each slam event will be linked to a common theme, announced in advance. 

• When the slam begins, storyteller hopefuls will put their names in a “hat.” Names are picked at random, and storytellers will take the stage one by one. 

• Storytellers whose name is not drawn will have an opportunity to deliver their first “hook” story line to the audience at the end of the slam. 

• At some slam events stories are scored by teams of judges selected from the audience. 

• Storytellers are judged on sticking to the five-minute time frame, sticking to the theme and having an engaging story. 

Please note

Although admission is not age-restricted, please consider that slam events are open mic. We do not control or know the story content in advance. Some stories may be explicit and meant for an audience aged 16 years and older.

Do you have a story to tell?

What we want to hear: 

Bring us into your experience. Ensnare us in your narrative web. Make us care about you and the journey you have taken. Help us understand the situation you were in. Describe what you observed. Tell us about your fears, your joys, worries or hopes. Include the irony, humor or pathos we can all relate to. What decisions did you make? What were the consequences? What did you change? How were YOU changed?

Story slam guidelines for storytellers

• Stories should be true.  Nonfiction only.

• Stories are told “by heart.” No notes or props. Practice your performance so that you do not need support.

• Adhere to the theme. The story you tell should be strongly linked to the announced theme for the date.

• The story must be yours –not someone else’s. Stories are usually better if you were present and involved in a significant way. 

• The story should reflect action and consequences. Tell us what was at stake, what was gained or lost, the obstacles or conflict you encountered, and how your actions affected you or the outcome.

• Adhere to the time limit. Stories should be 5 minutes long. There will be a one-minute grace period so you do not need to bring a stopwatch.

Please avoid:

• stand-up routines, stereotypes, rants, essays, religious sermons, how-to’s, confessions, lectures, or fiction.

• No one wants to hear hate or derision aimed at a person or a group. Build a bridge with humanity, not a wall.