SlamCamp teaches storytelling as key to a better Philadelphia

Authenticity is the key at SlamCamp (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

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PHILADELPHIA — When you think of what makes a great musician, author or playwright, great storytelling is what comes to mind.

Storytelling or public speaking is something that’s pretty common for most adults but it can also be a very scary thing to do. It’s the No. 1 phobia according to a list put out by the National Institute of Mental Health. Storyteller Nimisha Ladva said there’s a natural reason that public speaking scares us.

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“Our bodies experience public speaking as a threat. So we so we react to it as a threat. We either fight, flight or freeze. I have not seen people fight yet. Thank goodness, but I have certainly seen, you know, that beautiful freezing and that sort of nauseous, anxious feeling. But that’s because we’re thinking of it as our bodies are reacting to a threat. But public speaking is not an angry lion. Public speaking is really just you being in front of people. So there’s a way to work around that,” Ladva said.

Ladva and the First Person Arts Festival want to change the way people think about public speaking and sharing their stories.

“Everyone has a story to tell, the First Person Arts Festival gives people a chance to tell their stories and for our community to hear them. Hearing each others stories bring us together as a community. What this festival is doing is really helping to build a stronger Philadelphia. The community is stronger because of the opportunities that grow out of sharing our stories,” Ladva said.

If storytelling, listening and a sense of community sound good to you, Ladva offers a workshop geared towards novices and seasoned storytellers alike.

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“This is a storytelling workshop for anyone interested in learning how to tell a story, that includes someone who might have a desire to throw their name in the hat and become a storyteller at a slam. It’s also great for anyone. You’d be surprised how much of our lives involve storytelling. Your work might involve talking to people. We spend a lot of time telling stories professionally or privately. If you want to get better at this basic fundamental human activity and have some insights about it, a story slam workshop is a great place to start,” Ladva said.

If you’re wondering if you have the makings of a good storyteller, Ladva said being authentic is the key.

“When an audience hears a good story, they leave with a bigger heart,” Ladva said.

Ladva said she believes that storytelling and events like SlamCamp are the keys to making the world a better place.

“Anyone that comes to SlamCamp on Saturday can expect to leave a braver, bolder, better storyteller, that can be for business, that can be for their personal life, that can be great for the nonprofit sector. There’s lots of ways that storytelling ends up in different philosophies of life. And this helps us all them have more insight about it and also be better for it,” Ladva said.

For more information on SlamCamp and the First Person Arts Festival, visit firstpersonarts.org.

Jamyra Perry is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.