The first Odyssey Storytelling show was held on March 4, 2004 at the (now defunct) Wilde Playhouse on Congress Street in downtown Tucson, Arizona. Six brave people told stories on the small stage to an audience of friends and family. The founder, Penelope Starr, organized this unique-to-Tucson event in six short weeks and spent the next few years gathering great volunteers and creating the sustainable organization it is today
We incorporated StoryArts Group, Inc., a 501(c)(3) community funded arts organization in 2009 with the mission to create, support, preserve, promote and celebrate the art of storytelling. Jen Nowicki Clark, Executive Producer, became our first part-time contract employee in 2015. Volunteer storytellers and crew members work together with Jen to produce an entertaining and edifying show every month.
An essential cornerstone of Odyssey has always been community announcements. The guiding principal of Odyssey Storytelling is to make connections. We encourage our tellers to “shamelessly promote” their interests, be it a book they just published or a charity they love.
In an article in Borderlore, a publication of the Southwest Folklife Alliance, Odyssey Storytelling is described this way: “The big picture is that sharing stories is about building community. On a personal level it is about being honest and being seen for who you are. Both of these things are basic human needs. Everyone benefits from a storytelling event either as a teller or as a listener. Odyssey Storytelling offers a showcase for people of all ages, cultures, gender expressions and sexual orientations.”
Most of the stories have been either videotaped or recorded to create an incredible archive of the Tucson community. We are currently seeking funds to digitize and permanently store this invaluable resource.