It’s been getting increasingly hot here in NYC and I’m starting to understand why people say summer in the city is horrendous. It really is stifling here at midday and everything has started to smell: there is steam literally rising from the sidewalks.
The past fortnight has been extremely exciting: my first Mainstage and GrandSLAM events! Making note of the different type of people who attend these events is very useful. Our Mainstage, in particular, seemed to attract a completely different demographic to our regular SLAMs. The Mainstage differs as it is significantly more expensive. It’s a rehearsed event, so we have five storytellers who tell 10-minute stories, as opposed to the usual five minutes and names picked at random out of a hat. This particular show was in partnership with POV and we had five stories from tellers who’d either been the subject of a documentary or produced one themselves. My favourite was Shelby Knox, whose battle for comprehensive sex education in her Texan school was the subject of the documentary The Education of Shelby Knox. The Mainstage also attracted a lot of pretty well-known people, including journalists, directors and filmmakers. Selling merchandise and membership became something of a ‘spot-the-famous-person’ game.
The GrandSLAM was similar to our weekly SLAMs in terms of its set up, but was the culmination of ten weeks’ worth of SLAMs, with the winners from each facing off. We also had five teams of judges as opposed to the usual three, and the interns got to make up one of the teams. Judging made the event a whole new experience as it was less about sitting back and enjoying the show and more about considering the judging criteria (length, narrative arc, high stakes). Stories are pretty subjective things to judge, too – what one team loves, another can hate.
Along with all these work-related events, I’ve also been doing a lot of sightseeing – there are hundreds of free things happening in NYC in the summer, including an excellent Richard III in Central Park. I’ve also been to the Natural History Museum, which was fantastic (I’m definitely going back before I leave, I saw approximately a third of it!), taken the ferry to Staten Island (the free way to get a great view of the Statue of Liberty!) and explored a lot of the parks (my favourite being the Cloisters, which is about three blocks from where I’m staying in uptown Inwood).
I can’t believe I only have two weeks left here! The time has flown!