Mouthing off

The local storytelling series, Mouthy, gets the community talking

The series’ founders, Laura Kelly and Vincent Perez, kicked off Mouthy in 2009.
The series’ founders, Laura Kelly and Vincent Perez, kicked off Mouthy in 2009.

Storytelling takes a new spin with Mouthy.

The ongoing storytelling series brings together the Queen’s and local communities in a creative way.

Laura Kelly, ArtSci ’14, and Vincent Perez, a Faculty of Education alumnus, brought the program to the Limestone City in 2009 and have been going strong since.

“I had attended a bunch of really amazing storytelling events in different cities, a lot in Toronto,” Kelly said. “[I] wanted to do similar events in Kingston.”

Typically, storytelling events in larger cities consist of pre-planned stories with a set list, whereas in Kingston it’s a completely different scene.

“It’s almost like curating without knowing what you’re going to get,” she said.

The events tend to be unscripted and allow the audience to speak whenever they want.

“You don’t have to feel obliged to tell a story,” she said. “But come prepared and open to the fact that you may feel inspired to.”

People don’t always come with a story planned out. A lot of the best ones are the sporadic, unrehearsed ones, Perez said.

Mouthy has provided the community with the puzzle piece it’s been missing.

“If something’s missing in the community and we feel capable for putting that on for people — then why not?” Perez said.

The sporadic events always feature a different theme, each providing community members a forum to share personal stories, whether funny, heartfelt or in between.

With its first event as a Halloween-themed night for telling ghost stories, the series has come a long way.

The program has grown and developed multiple partnerships in Kingston. They’ve collaborated with fundraising groups, The Artel, and most recently, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (AEAC) on campus.

To coincide with the AEAC’s exhibition, Déjà Déjà Visité, Kelly and Perez were invited by the curator last month to host a storytelling event

It had to do with a sense of home, place and travel — things obliquely related to the exhibit, Perez said.

Entitled “Pilgrimages Redux”, Perez, alongside Michael Davidge, a fellow storyteller, started with their own stories of pilgrimage, travel and inner journeys, titled “Catalog.” Then, like all Mouthy events, opened the floor to the audience open mic-style.

Mouthy’s diary-reading themed night was their most successful.

“Although participants are reading journal entries or email correspondences, they still come off as personal statements,” Perez said. “[There are] feelings of humour, sadness and embarrassment — it’s a nice range of emotion.”

Although they’re both amateur storytellers, hosting the series has helped the pair explore new creative avenues.

For Perez, a self-proclaimed introvert, it’s helped him become more comfortable speaking to an audience.

Their upcoming event speaks true to their community roots.

In partnership with the Sleepless Goat Café, the next chapter in their series will focus on community figures, spaces and events.

Inspired by a Kingstonian’s recently gutted creative space, the next Mouthy event will open the conversation on gentrification and the Kingston community.

Mouthy’s next event will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Sleepless Goat Café.

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