Waltzing Mechanics

Chicago's Home for Documentary Theatre

"EL Stories" Director's Note: The Meme

Waltzing Mechanics founder Keely Leonard shares her perspectives on EL Stories in her clever and associative director's note published in our current edition of Playbill.  Join us every Saturday night at 11:00 p.m. at the Greenhouse Theater Center for the most entertaining tales from the rails.

How I Explain What the Show Is About When I’m Listening to an EL Story

EL Stories is about the audience.  It’s about using performance to share stories from the community about their experiences on public transportation and creating the opportunity for others to tell their own story.  It’s a live archive of moments that become a kaleidoscope of the city itself.

How I Explain What the Show Is About When I’m in Rehearsal

EL Stories is about the storyteller.  It’s about reaching for the voice of the narrator from the original recording so that we can honor that voice onstage.

How I Explain What the Show Is About When I’m in a Bar

EL Stories is about the modern-age transportation system as the Last Great Public Forum.  No, no, that’s totally a thing!  Okay, maybe it’s not THE LAST public forum, but it’s certainly ONE of the last – and no, Facebook does not count! I mean an actual, physical space that people from all walks of life have to actually physically share.  Everyone on the EL is bound only by the shared ability to pay $2.25 to get somewhere.   That’s it!  Inside a train you can find people of all professions (including no profession!), all religions (including no religion!), all personalities (including no personality!) – etc. etc. etc.  You could meet someone of virtually any class, race, gender, sexual preference, financial status (or lack thereof), emotional health (or lack thereof) - anyone can get on the train.  And usually, anyone does!  That is AWESOME!

Last Great Public Forum, guys. It’s totally a thing.  This is what I tell people.

How I Explain What the Show Is About When I’m Talking to Myself

EL Stories is about how everyone has a story to tell.  In the year and a half since the show’s inception, we have gotten to talk to countless Chicagoans about their public transit tales.  Under the auspices of collecting performance material, we have begged stories from family members, friends, strangers on the street – anyone who would talk to us.  And the phrase we hear most often repeated is a variation of this:

“It’s not really much of a story, but – “

Yet what follows will always negate this preface.  There will always be a story.   Without fail, despite disclaimers, there is always a story.  Perhaps there isn’t always what might be called a linear narrative, but I have come to believe that it is the momentary glimpse into the storyteller’s world that is in and of itself the heart of the thing.

How I Explain What the Show Is About When I’ve Been Talking to Myself for Too Long

Life! Trains! Theatre! Everything!!!  AH!

(Doors Closing).

What the Show Is Really About

You.  Thanks for coming.

-- Keely Leonard Director