Lit Lounge presents its second "Most of" edition, a sort-of best of round-up featuring prominent performers of both national recognition and local prowess. The conversation returns to the Virginia G. Piper Theater at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 26.
Award-winning author and comedic performer Tania Katan is at the helm of the storytelling series. The cancer survivor and frequent TEDx speaker (and occasional Jackalope Ranch contributor) created the series in June 2012 to both media and audience acclaim.
"It's surpassed my expectations, which initially were to have a performance that had live story performers who were equal parts writers and performers telling true stories with live music weaving in and out," Katan says.
Katan grew up in the Valley and attended Arizona State University, where she currently consults and contributes to writing and lecture workshops after returning to the desert eight years ago. Her current position as "Producer of Shenanigans" at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's SMoCA Lounge, which allows -- nay, encourages -- her to create outside-the-box events like Lit Lounge.
The monthly event routinely sells out its 100 seats in the lounge. There, five performers expose themselves -- in a literary sense. Tales of dating disasters and triumphs. Divulging of family secrets and personal successes alongside failures. It's moving. Approachable. Honest.
"I've had the luxury of both being a performer and a presenter. I think that open mics serve a purpose and experimental spaces serve a purpose," Katan says. "Personally I'm a big fan and have performed at Space 55 a lot. And to me, you can work it out at Space 55, and that's why it's an important space.
June's event is an eclectic collection of fusion storytelling that's come to be expected of the museum's event, albeit on a larger scale fitting of Katan's own exuberant, excited personality. The 800-capacity theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is expected to sell out quickly.
"It's a serious all-star line-up. We have Annabelle Gurwitch who is a New York Times bestseller as of like, three weeks ago," Katan says. "I saw the article on her when her new book came out and I realized, 'Oh my gosh, I've performed with Annabelle in Los Angeles! I'll just email her and see if she wants to do Lit Lounge.' And she said yes."
Besides Katan and Gurwitch, who has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher and The Today Show among others, the fellow five performers in this month's all-female cast include noted comedians, activists, and poets. The list won't just round out at seven, though. Katan promises a mystery speaker (or two) added to this year's line-up.
Sonya Renee Taylor is an internationally acclaimed performance artist and activist who has appeared on BET, MTV, and CNN and who founded The Body is Not an Apology: Radical Self Love and Body Empowerment -- a workshop based movement.
Los Angeles-based Jessica Lee Williamson is the winner of New York's The Moth Grand Slam. A nearly two-decade-old non-profit, The Moth regularly presents live storytelling events worldwide.
Beth Lapides has performed at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival and may be recognized for her portrayal of a performance artist on Sex & the City. She's the creative force behind UnCabaret, a live "alternative comedy" event performed in L.A.
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Self-proclaimed comedian-turned-author Dani Modisett is the editor if "Afterbirth ... stories you won't read in Parents magazine" and developed a live show of the same name. Her original stories are often based in parenthood and marriage, and she taught stand-up comedy at UCLA for almost 10 years.
Phoenix playwright and actor (and Big Brain Award winner) Kim Porter returns to participate in her second Most of Lit Lounge. The writer and workshop director is the author of the play Munched, which was performed at Space 55 in 2011. She's the winner of three L.A. Weekly Theater Awards and two Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.
Live music will be performed between stories by local band Where Are All the Buffalo? who released their melodic, accordion-heavy six song EP Orogens last summer. A cash bar will be available and, yes, you can bring your drinks into the theater with you.