Storytime for adults

When you think of storytime, you might think of your parents reading aloud to you before tucking you in for bed. Perhaps the story was accompanied by a glass of warm milk to help you sleep. Stories on Stage in Davis takes the concept of storytime and adds an adult flair to it, replacing that glass of milk with a glass of wine and replacing picture books with stories by acclaimed authors.

Modelled on the successful Stories on Stage in Sacramento series, Stories on Stage in Davis hopes to celebrate the remarkable acting and writing talent in Davis and its surrounding communities. Each performance, which takes place the second Saturday of each month, features two performances, one piece written by an established author and another written by an emerging author.

This month’s Stories on Stage performance, which will take place on Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm at the Pence Gallery, features a talented set of performers and authors.

Patricia Glass, who has most recently performed as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker at the Woodland Opera House, will be reading “Wanderlust” by Laleh Khadivi.

Khadivi, whose debut novel, The Age of Orphans, won the Whiting Award in Fiction, says she is most excited “to see how the story sounds in someone else’s voice.”

“All writing was once storytelling or song, [and] gathering in a room to hear a story is an old, important act that brings worlds to life,” Khadivi said.

Glass agreed that reading stories aloud is an important way to learn about other cultures and experiences. She said that reading this piece helped her experience a side of the world that she would otherwise never have been exposed to.

“You learn to feel what other people are feeling [to see] how different everyone is and still how similar we are on the inside,” Glass said. “I am excited about sharing people’s experiences that are so vastly different than anything we could ever imagine. It’s great to have these types of performances so people can connect with one another.”

Glass prepared extensively for her performance of “Wanderlust,” which is about the collective experience of Russian mail-order brides.

“Because it’s from the perspective of several girls who live in Russia I thought it would be most effective to try to use a Russian accent,” Glass said. “There are a lot of Russian proper nouns and I wanted to be sure I pronounced them correctly, so I consulted with one of the Russian professors here at Davis.”

Kathryn Williams, who taught English at UC Davis, will have her piece, “Three, Four, Knock at the Door,” performed by Phillip Larrea. Larrea, a longtime actor and a writer himself, plans to bring Williams’ piece to life by attempting to channel a Cuban accent. However, he, like Glass, stressed the importance of doing an accent properly and not letting an accent dominate his performance.

“What you try to do is find key words rather than doing 100 percent of an accent; you find more of a rhythm and you give the touches without being a caricature,” Larrea said.

Larrea sees Stories on Stage as a way to connect with the community.

“There is a wonderful feeling if you’ve brought a piece to life,” Larrea said. “And you have that sense of community [when] everybody is really focused on this piece, and it’s a terrific feeling.”

It is this sense of camaraderie that has made Stories on Stage in Davis so popular. Larrea, who has previously performed for the series in 2013, greatly enjoys the positive atmosphere that people bring to the Pence Gallery every second Saturday.

“It’s just a wonderful event,” Larrea said. “And performing gives me a chance to be in the audience for the other reading and to enjoy the cookies,” he said, laughing.

We are, after all, never too old to enjoy some cookies and a good story.

To find out more about Stories on Stage, visit their website. The next Stories on Stage performance will take place on Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pence Gallery. Doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is $5.

Graphic by Stories on Stage