Preview: Pressgang Storytelling Celebrates Four Years

Following hard on the heels of a successful, sold-out run of their play Served at The Toronto Fringe Festival, Pressgang Theatre is celebrating its fourth anniversary with a storytelling show at Kensington Market’s Handlebar on Tuesday, August 25 at 7:30 PM.

The lineup of storytellers includes some faces familiar to Toronto Fringe-goers: Rhiannon Archer (Life Records), Jillian Welsh (Served), Glyn Bowerman (Served), as well as Faisal Butt (Just for Laughs), Helder Brum (HGTV’s Deck Wars), Jake Babad, and Ashley Ann Caggianello.

We asked host and company founder Graham Isador a few questions about the upcoming show:

Can you briefly describe your show and tell us what lead you to develop the concept of presenting these storytelling shows?

For the storytelling shows we have a variety of different writers, artists, musicians, what have yous, come and tell their best true story on a theme.

The concept developed like this: I had performed my first one-man show and really enjoyed the experience. In retrospect, I think I probably enjoyed the experience much more than most of the audience did. I wanted to pursue that kind of theatre, but was savvy enough to realize that begging my friends and family to come out would get pretty tiresome.

At the same time, I had become obsessed with the podcast This American Life. Each week they pick a theme and tell a variety of different stories on that theme. Combining those interests seemed like a good idea. We did the first show four years ago and have been doing them ever since.

What can the audience expect?

A storytelling show is a lot like a stand up show, except sometimes, instead of trying to make you laugh, a performer may try and make you cry. We try and take small stories that point toward something much, much, bigger. We are also trying to entertain you.

What’s your process for curating the stories featured in the show?

I invite a performer and, depending on their experience level on stage, work with that performer to get the best of their story. We’ve had people who have contributed for VICE, the CBC, NPR, and MuchMusic among others. It’s a talented group of people who’ve been on.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you have you learned in the four years of doing these storytelling shows?

That even if you think something truly wild has happened to you, there is probably at least one other person in the audience who has had the same experience.

What are you hoping people will take away from your show?

I want people to be entertained.


Photo of Graham Isador by Maddie Fordham