Performer’s Spotlight - Emily Tedesco
Who is Story District? In an effort to learn a little about the kinds of people that make up Story District, we spoke to Emily Tedesco to learn a little about her experience with storytelling and Story District. Check out what she says:
I've heard you performed a story - did you take a storytelling class?
Yeah, I took the five week 101 class with Amy and Vijai. It was fabulous. I had hilarious classmates and a fun performance experience.
What first got you interested in storytelling?
Well my parents raised me and my siblings on a steady diet of fiction and funny voices, so stories have always been a huge part of my life. When I moved to DC almost two years ago for a job, I knew that I wanted to get involved in my community in ways that would mean more to me than work can. So, this is a pretty sad image, but right before I flew here, I was up late at my parents’ house in Germany thinking about the future, reading commencement speeches, exploring what the internet had to tell me about being a grown up. I wanted to make sure I stayed true to my love of stories in my post grad life. That led me to faithfully google “Washington, DC Storytelling.” I then binged on some StoryDistrict performances on YouTube, thinking “This is what I want to put my energy into.” It was pretty much love at first sight.
What were you hoping to learn/gain when you first started storytelling?
Well, I took the class hoping that I could become half as cool as the folks I’d seen performing on stage! I’m also famously long-winded, and self-conscious about it, so I wanted to learn how to get a grip on that. We learned a lot about weeding out unimportant information.
Do you enjoy performing in general? Or only specifically storytelling?
On the stage? No, I’m very shy and pretty unskilled in that regard. But in everyday life? Yes. I love making people laugh.
What did you learn through the storytelling process about yourself?
Oh gosh, I learned a lot. My story was about a very dramatic breakup that happened three years ago, and my attitude towards it has evolved so much- a lot more than I used to think. I used to feel so heavy with guilt about it, and then I felt angry at the other person, and then I went through the self-righteous “You know? Honestly I Feel Kind Of Sorry For Him” phase. Your attitude towards certain events in your life evolves as you get further away from them, and consequently, so does the story. Amy and Viaji were badasses about conveying that to us. It also drove home the point that emotions- which I often mistake for truth- are so unreliable!
Do you ever want to tell another story?
Yes I do!
Did you know going into this process what story you were interested in telling? Or did you have to find what you wanted to say as you went?
I knew what story I wanted to choose on the second class, which was when we were required to have one in our heads. I chose it mostly because it was one of the most jaw-droppingly unexpected things that has ever happened to me. That was fine, but I’ve realized that the shock factor is not an important one in making a great story. What did change over the course of the class was the way I illustrated the events. Vijai and Amy really grilled us with some basic but powerful questions like, "Okay, but what did you hear? What did you see? What song might have been playing at the time? What was the dynamic?" They helped everyone's story bloom. They are impressive teachers.
About the class itself - do you think it has improved your confidence at all?
Well, it improved my public speaking for a moment, which made me more confident when I got behind the mic. And it helped me discern valuable information from useless information, which does improve my confidence today. I was still very nervous when I told my story!
Could you see the other students in your class improving?
YES! They brought great stories that just needed to be carved out of these big blocky experiences they had. All of our stories improved wonderfully. We were really proud of each other at the end.
Did you feel any different when you finished your last day of class?
I felt closer to and more comfortable with my classmates. None of us knew each other before. That was so great.
As for your story - did you find it difficult to sincerely convey how you felt at the time, since your feelings have changed since then?
Oh, absolutely. That was the hardest part of sculpting my story. I might not even be able to describe it right now.
Would you be comfortable if the person you broke up with heard your story?
I actually told him about it in January! We’re good friends today. He was kind of touched, but also a little disgruntled- and understandably so! He was also kind of heartened to know that our friendship is an important and transformative experience for me.