Throughout history, storytelling has been used to pass information from one generation to the next. Even in modern times, it is used as a way to entertain.
This form of entertainment has now found a home in Long Island City, where once a month The Creek Lounge is home to a live storytelling event.
The series, called “1001 Nights,” began in April of 2009. Creator Eugene Ashton-Gonzalez, a New York-based comedian who lives in Manhattan, had been taking a class involving storytelling. He is also part of an improvisation group that performs at The Creek Theater.
Ashton-Gonzalez came up with the idea for the storytelling series in Long Island City and talked to The Creek owner about getting it started.
“Last year the storytelling scene was just sort of really taking off in New York City,” said Ashton-Gonzalez, who is now the co-host, producer and director of the series. “It seemed like a great opportunity.”
Lisa Lewis, an essayist and playwright who was recently a part of “1001 Nights,” described storytelling as “the original form of entertainment.” She said that, because of the popularity of the storytelling competition The Moth, she thinks it has become more popular in New York with more storytelling events popping up.
Although storytelling might be popular in other boroughs, it is relatively new in Queens.
“There’s a scene in Manhattan already and there seems to be, in the last few months or last few years . . . a scene in Brooklyn coming up,” said Ted McAdams, a co-host of the series in LIC. “But we seem to be, I guess, the Queens staple for now.”
Lewis explained that storytelling is very different from stand-up comedy, noting that “storytelling doesn’t hit you over the head with a punch line.” Instead, she said that the performer wants to tell a story with an arc that has a point, adding that “it takes you on a journey.”
“Storytelling is a medium that I think sort of greets the audience with open arms,” Ashton-Gonzalez said.
When it comes to “1001 Nights” and the audiences who come to see it, Ashton-Gonzalez said that Long Island City has “embraced it like a bear.”
During sessions of “1001 Nights,” the performers are given a particular theme to work with. For instance, in June, the stories had to involve “traveling.”
McAdams said that they try to select themes that can be approached in different ways, not only by subject matter but with style. Some storytellers may have their stand-up background come through while others present in more of a monologue style.
They also try to include a mix of new and established storytellers.
“This particular one with Eugene has been lovely,” Lewis said. “I think Eugene creates a really warm and inviting atmosphere both for the audience and the performers.”
“1001 Nights” is held once a month on the Friday of the third full week. It takes place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Creek Lounge, which is located at 1093 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.
On July 23, the storytellers will tackle the theme “experiments.” Then, on August 20, stories will involve “vacancies.”
For more information on “1001 Nights,” visit https://www.1001nightsnyc.com/Blog.