Crazy love: Seven Big Blue Door storytellers pour their hearts out

True story

What is Big Blue Door?

Charlottesville native Joel Jones and his wife Jennifer Hoffman Jones are accomplished storytellers, producers, actors, directors…the list goes on. So living in New York City, a place where they could pursue a variety of theatrical endeavors, really worked for them. But in the summer of 2012, the married couple gave up life in the Big Apple and returned home to Charlottesville. When they got back, Jennifer said to her husband, “Let’s do something fun.” That’s when they founded Big Blue Door, and that’s where this story really begins.

Big Blue Door is a creative organization committed to storytelling for its own sake. Not only do the Joneses produce events of their own, they’ve also paired up with local organizations like Live Arts and The Director’s Studio to offer workshops in long-form improvisational comedy, scene writing, and “true” storytelling, which is the centerpiece of Big Blue Door.

“I think the thing that’s amazing is that you find out that people around you are more interesting than—for whatever reason—the literary creations that we are able to come up with right now,” said Joel in an interview with WNRN.

These testimonies are the kinds of stories that are told on the third Thursday of every month at the org’s regular event, the Big Blue Door Jam, at Woolly Mammoth. Anyone is invited to share a six- to eight-minute true story on a pre-selected theme (like “The kids are alright” or “Schemes & dreams”), after which, volunteer judges select a winner. Twice yearly, these winners are invited back to perform in the ultimate production, the Big Blue Door Slam. The winner of the Slam takes home a loaf of bread to accompany the jar of jam won at the, er, Jam. It’s no gold medal, but it makes for a great story.

Visit bigbluedoor.org for more information.—Stephanie DeVaux

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