Tales at the Taphouse is an ongoing series of community events held in Laramie where community members can either tell their stories or listen to others speak on a variety of personal topics. These events aim to “celebrate self-identifying women, trans, and non-binary individuals in our community by fostering a community-driven storytelling series,” as stated in their mission.
Event organizer Rose Curtis started the events in 2018 and is looking forward to holding more frequent events over the summer. Storytelling used to be monthly and held at Coal Creek Tap House, but had some setbacks due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“Back when I was managing Coal Creek Tap and Coal Creek Coffee,” Curtis explains. “I really started contemplating what we as a community as well as a business were doing to highlight and show value of woman of our community…I knew we wanted to feature women, I knew we wanted to have forward moving themes that encourage conversations.” Curtis reached out to the Laramie community through social media in 2018 and only received one response; a young woman with the idea of “Storytelling.”
The events tend to feature four storytellers who are pre-registered, and one storyteller chosen from the audience. “We encourage no notes, we support notes too especially if there is some difficult material for someone to share, but we really try to encourage a casual way of storytelling…Some people keep it lighthearted and have audiences laughing, others open up about their trauma.”
Speakers can speak for a maximum of ten minutes with no minimum. Curtis says, “I tell people that they are not giving a TED Talk, this is not a presentation, they are an expert in their own lives…We don’t have an agenda, and we don’t need to change people’s minds on a topic.”
To qualify as a speaker for the Tales at the Taphouse events, one must identify as female, non-binary, or transgender. Community members can both attend the events for free as an audience member, or sign up as a storyteller by emailing Rose Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Curtis says, “It’s pretty amazing what this does for our community, whether you’re a storyteller or an audience member, magic is always the word I come back to.”
The month of June is themed “Called to Action: Courage & Community” and the first storytelling event of 2021 will be June 22nd in partnership with Laramie PrideFest. Curtis is looking for four featured storytellers to tell a 10-minute personal narrative somehow relating to the theme, and storytellers must identify as LGBTQ+ for this specific event. “Without storytellers, there is no event!”
“We are reserving that space as a storyteller specifically for those identifiers,” Curtis explains. “I have gotten feedback from plenty of men who want to share a story and kind of feel excluded, but I try to shift that way of thinking. You are not being excluded, you are actually being invited to participate in a really important role which is to be a listener and to hear women’s stories.”
Past themes have included, “Women in the Wild,” “My First Time,” “Image and Identities,” “Body Image and Positivity,” “Siblings,” “Changes,” “Immigration,” and “Woman’s Best Friend.”
The July 2021 storytelling event will be themed “Man Up” and any community member can sign up to share a story with no limitations to identity. This is the first time Tales at the Tap House has invited cis men to sign up and share. They will also be introducing a new organization called the Campfire Initiative whose mission is, “Building a safer community within male identities of all ages through education, storytelling, and community engagement to eliminate gender-based violence in Albany County.” The Campfire Initiative will be hosting more storytelling events throughout the year, and more information will be posted to social media soon.
It is tradition to highlight nonprofits and organizations during each storytelling event’s intermission, often groups that pair well with the story theme. Past partnerships have included Laramie Burlesque (theme: Body Image & Positivity), SAFE Project (theme: Survivors), Wyoming Equality & Laramie PrideFest (theme: Love & Queerness and Image & Identities), Wyoming Women’s Foundation and Juntos (theme: Immigration) the UW Outdoor Program (theme: No Man’s Land) and CSIL/Multicultural Affairs (theme: Representation).
“I am VERY thankful to all the volunteers past and present as well as sponsors,” Curtis says. “If a business or organization is interested in offering their space to host a future event or if they are doing work to better our community and would like to be featured during intermission then they can email me.”
For more information, visit the Facebook events at https://www.facebook.com/events/1000107117194700?ref=newsfeed and https://www.facebook.com/events/487287402329915?ref=newsfeed
Or visit Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/talesatthetaphouse/