In December 2022, Kamarie Chapman and Krissa Woiwod started Bellingham Story Hour at the New Prospect Theatre, a monthly event consisting of two workshops and a true story share. But Bellingham Story Hour is about much more than just sharing stories: It’s about creating a space for our community to come together, deconstructing
and dismantling our ideas about performance, and making theater more accessible.

The idea started with The Moth, a podcast dedicated to storytelling, something Chapman would tune into during the COVID quarantine. Woiwod joined because she was ready to help people produce shows and knew her experience could be helpful for folks learning how to tell stories.

Together they created the workshops where they focus on the three Ds: discovery, development, and delivery. The workshops help folks to realize performances don’t have to be a traumatic thing. They create a space where it’s safe to fail and to struggle through while not worrying about it.

The stories themselves are meant to be smaller. A snail appears on much of their promotional material and represents small, slow steps. Snails are often overlooked but still an important part of the ecosystem, just as small stories still hold value.

“I didn’t want to help a bunch of privileged white people become the heroes of their own stories,” Woiwod says. “We don’t all have the privilege of world adventure or big adventures, but we still have stories to share.” The goal is to show people that everyone has a story, and we can all find commonalities and share in each other’s joy, burdens, and shame.

Chapman and Woiwod have known each other for over 20 years and both have long histories in theater and production.

“We wouldn’t say we’re ‘besties’ but we have grown together in education, motherhood, and exiting the level of performance that we both used to be involved in,” Chapman says.

With Bellingham Story Hour, they have realized there is a different way to do theater— one that’s more accessible, easier on the folks involved, and creates community connection. It’s still an ongoing process but they are committed to learning, holding themselves accountable, and continuing to put these ideas into practice. Eventually they would like to pass off artistic direction to new folks. Neither of them believes that one person should lead a space and be the sole voice of that community.

On that note, Kaitlin Losansky has recently joined Bellingham Story Hour to help with marketing and other business aspects. Losansky is an artist who is also a management major currently finishing her degree. So many organizations in the arts don’t have these business resources, yet there is still a necessary intersection between these two, and this is the kind of work Losansky wants to do. They also feel strongly about choosing better ways to collaborate and helping to dismantle oppressive systems in these fields.

Each month the community helps Bellingham Story Hour select a theme for the stories. Some past themes include “Oh. No? Thank you?,” “It felt like a good idea at the time,” and “I’m fine now.”

Bellingham Story Hour holds workshops on the first and third Tuesdays of every month and the story share is on the fourth Tuesday at New Prospect Theatre. You can find them on Instagram @bhamstoryhour and sign-ups/tickets can be found on their website.