As my holiday gift to you, allow me to share a funny, touching story that originally aired on the Otter Story Hour’s show: Family Feast. Every Christmas, visions of tamales dance in my head. Actually, I often eat tamales year-round, maybe because I’m a Mexican who grew up in Los Angeles. But don’t let my roots fool you – I have a fraught relationship with tamales, thanks to my awkward relationship with my family. Want to know what I mean? Go to 50:06 in the video below to hear my 10-minute tale. Or grab snacks and watch the whole show as several delightful storytellers share tales of feasting:
As many of you know, I’m writing a historical novel inspired by family stories my Mexican-Chinese grandma used to tell me: tales of secret immigrants and mixed races, family loyalties and betrayals. I’m also involved in the world of live personal storytelling, and The Storytellers Project recently invited me to share a true story about my search for my ancestral past. Here’s a video of that virtual show on the theme of Home. You’ll see my 9-minute story at 19:34. Warning: In the story, I mention sexual abuse, though not in a graphic way.
If you’re involved in the world of live personal storytelling, as a teller or a fan, then you know the pandemic didn’t stop us but only prompted us to find each other online, thanks to dedicated producers who took their shows to the virtual road. Such shows are part of a support system that has kept us glued together as a community, and helped keep me from coming unglued personally. As we prepare to return to live shows, please allow me to share with you this fun little story from one of our pandemic-era events, the Turbine Arts Collective annual Pre-Valentine’s Show. This story is called: The Hooker Bully.
So, you’d like to see more of this sort of thing? Then you’re in luck! 😉 I’m appearing in a half-hour one-woman show for Greystone Theatre Performances, a series of virtual solo performances featuring a variety of artists at Beverly Hills’ historic Greystone Mansion. Here’s the lowdown:
My Greystone Theatre Performance, Trilogy of Traffic, premieres Monday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m., both on BHTV Channel 10 and live-streamed at http://beverlyhills.org/live. After it airs, you can find the video for Trilogy of Traffic at: http://beverlyhills.org/greystonetheatre. Thank you for supporting the storytelling tradition!
A story can mean different things at different times. In 2019, I first told this one, Cara Lopez Lee Gets A Reporting Job (a.k.a. The Boss of Last Resort) for Daniel David Shapiro’s podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. It’s the story of the most racist, sexist, intolerant tyrant I ever worked for, back in the 90’s. I share it now as a small underline to America’s cry for change in 2020. I previously shared the podcast, but below is the video of me telling the story to our live audience. It was one of the two true stories in the show.
I have not lived an African American experience, though I carry African DNA from my ancestors. And this story does not directly address the recent murder of George Floyd, or police brutality against people of color, though I am outraged by such injustices. Neither is this story about the Black Lives Matter movement, though BLM gave me impetus to share it now. Still, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate: Black Lives Matter. Maybe if we say it enough, and back it up with meaningful action, we’ll begin to create change.
At The Moth StorySlam in L.A., at Busby’s East on December 11, 2019, I told a true personal story I’ve long hoped to tell, on a theme that means a lot to me: Family. It marked one of my most treasured moments connecting with an audience. I was proud to come in third place with my tale, Lost In L.A., neck and neck with a couple of terrific fellow storytellers. Thank you for listening, and for supporting stories!
Lost In L.A. (courtesy of The Moth) from Cara Lopez Lee on Vimeo
I suspect we all have a story about some crazy boss who we feared might destroy our lives. I recently shared such a story on Daniel David Shapiro’s podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. There is so much unbelievable drama in real life, but also so much surprising truth in fiction, that I can’t help but love Dan’s description of his show: “a podcast about truth, fiction, and the hazy line in between.” Whether he asks me to tell the truth or a fabulation, it’s always a thrill to share a story with Dan’s live audience. Here’s a link to the story I told for his recent episode, “Bosses.” I’m the first storyteller in the podcast, but I hope you’ll listen to all three so you can join the fun and try to guess who’s lying. Of course, you can always cheat and jump to the Reveal episode for the answer…but what fun would that be?
Above is a video Daniel David Shapiro recently released of me telling a story at his live L.A. show and podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. Dan’s show presents irresistible challenges for storytellers, as we all strive to keep the audience guessing:
- If Dan asks me to lie, for me the challenge is to build a story with details so deeply human that the audience feels the ring of a deeper truth within it, even though it’s made up. It’s also a fun balancing act to see how high I can stack the hyperbole, spinning a tale so outrageous they’re sure nobody would dare make it up, all without overplaying my hand.
- If Dan asks me to tell the truth, I strive to give the audience details that make them doubt it really happened, or at least make them hope it didn’t…even though it did. I love to take an audience with me as I ponder just how astonishing are the challenges of being human.
My above story, Baby Thumbelina, comes from an episode called Innocence. It’s a tale of childhood bullying and sweet revenge, and it’s all too true, my friends. Please check it out. If it reminds you of a story of your own, I hope you’ll let me know…