Augustine’s Confessions (the very title implies an admission of guilt) is considered the first Western autobiography ever written, or in other words, the first public personal revelation. As in much of Christian first-person literature that followed—Hildegard of Bingen’s visions, Martin Luther’s Tabletalk accounts, John Newton’s “Amazing Grace,” Charles Wesley’s journals, C. S. Lewis’s Pilgrim’s Regress—Confessions combines declaration, admission, and revelation all under an awning of transformation.
It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that this is very much what is happening in live storytelling across New York City. Whether the stories are funny or sad, they are always personal and they always contain a narrative arc, some sort of transformation. And because the stories are live, the audience is a participant, learning as much about themselves as about the storyteller. Furthermore, to call stories in which people detail their often-R-rated comedy of errors or sexcapades ‘confessions’ or ‘defenses’ doesn’t feel like an overstatement either.
Mike Daisey, who is referred to as ‘the master storyteller—one of the finest solo performers of his generation,’ was raised Catholic. When Allison, who also has a Catholic background, first saw Daisey perform, he couldn’t pinpoint why Daisey was so effective. ‘What is it about the beautiful music, the rhythms and volumes and tones of his stories?’ Allison asked himself. ‘And then I realized it’s a homily! It’s in his blood, in his upbringing.’
Kristen Scharold — my former student