Everyone has a story: Writ Large returns to The Collective Snowmass
Special to The Aspen Times
What do a Navy SEAL, a Polynesian dancer, a comedienne and an amateur mycologist have in common?
According to the founder and creative mind behind Writ Large, Alya Howe, they all have a story to tell.
“It’s about a personal discovery, an empowerment moment,” Howe said.
Conducting her 30th (give or take) storytelling event over approximately the past 10 years up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, Howe explained that it’s a long process, which leads the participants down a path toward confidence. The sessions also often provide the storytellers with a new perspective. They each practice over an eight-week period. They create outlines, conduct Zoom rehearsals and finish with live rehearsals before the night of the actual show.
“No one imagines how much work it actually is, but the more work you put into it, the better the self-discovery,” Howe said. “It also gives us an opportunity to look back at a story that maybe we have told and decide whether we feel the same way about it.”
The theme for this newest iteration of Writ Large, happening at The Collective in Snowmass Base Village on July 17, is titled “Collective Perspectives,” and, in addition to the clever use of the name and the tie-in with the program venue, Howe said it’s a nod to the larger communal experience of sharing what we know about ourselves with one another.
“Everyone comes from a really different walk of life,” she said.
For example, the previously mentioned Navy SEAL, Errol Doebler, is an author and instructs business leaders around the world. He served as a Surface Warfare Officer and Navy SEAL and spent time working with the FBI where he was awarded the FBI’s second highest award, the Shield of Bravery. Doebler is one of the few people in the world with the distinction of serving as a Surface Warfare Officer, SEAL and as an FBI Special Agent and FBI SWAT operator.
Hamilton Pevec, the mycologist, lives with his wife and two children in Carbondale, after spending most of the last 15 years in India and Nepal. He spent the first part of his career as a filmmaker, focusing on documentary subjects. He was tired of making movies for other people and decided to make movies about fungi, because he is a passionate naturalist and amateur mycologist. Since launching Hamilton’s Mushrooms, he has become involved in creating a standard for American laboratory testing within the mycospace, has begun a fungi-based fire mitigation method in collaboration with the Aspen Fire Department and is producing a documentary series on mushrooms and their various relationships with people, place and ecology.
Sarah Sanders lives in Snowmass. She is an event producer, new comedian and lover of the outdoors and her dog Lego. Over the last few years, she has seen the magic in the storytelling events and has participated in Writ Large workshops and performances. She is a believer in connection, community and sharing real stories to hopefully inspire others that healing is possible in many different facets.
Other participants include valley resident and self-described “avid people person” Julie Gillespie; fine artist, musician and dancer Gabriela E. Mejia; alternative healing advisor Stacy Oliver; and Courtney Sanders, founder of “The Bipolar Divine.”
Each story lasts about 15 minutes and ranges from the humorous to the powerful, but all carry equal weight.
“These stories are deeply personal; they’re something that is actually happening, or has happened, which adds a level of vulnerability to the whole thing,” Howe said.
And having an audience there makes a big difference.
“When we meet one another, we tend to be on our way to somewhere else; we don’t give ourselves 100% over to the moment. When we attend one of these storytelling events, we’ve chosen to pause and listen and lean into a moment in someone else’s life. It is so healing,” she said. “Especially in these polarizing times, we need to hear what other people have to say, we need to listen to each other, we need to find common ground.”