100 Creatives

Phoenix Storyteller Dan Hull: 100 Creatives

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See also: Tempe Artist Kendra Sollars: 100 Creatives

Hull has begun the third season of Yarnball, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday night, with each final Wednesday of the month culminating in a storytelling competition, dubbed YarnBOWL. And Storyline's second season kicks off on Friday, September 19, with local storytellers Rachel Eseoghene Egboro, Steve Marek, Gabriel King Radley, Rachel Shermanand, and Hull. That series continues on Third Fridays.

And the downtown Phoenix tale-teller has a few other projects up his sleeve, too.

"I just finished a one-man show in June at Space 55 called Bad Buddhist and am currently working on turning this story into a book," Hull says. "I've also gotten enough people mad a me for doing a show in the summer when they were out of town that I'm going to bring Bad Buddhist back for a couple of encore shows in the spring of 2015."

To keep tabs on the seemingly nonstop storyteller's schedule, keep an eye on thestoryline.org.

I came to Phoenix with the desire to expand my constricted, Midwestern horizons and discovered a deep love of the desert with its vast sky.

I make art because I love to entertain, make people laugh, and move others through storytelling. I also love to help create places for storytelling like Yarnball, YarnBOWL, and Storyline because both artists and audiences need spaces they can step into, be empowered by, and go back into their daily lives.

I'm most productive when I have the deadline of a show coming up. It pushes me; but, really, I'm most productive on stage. Writing and rehearsing are essential, but it's when I enter that space of focused concentration under the hot lights, feeling a room full of people staring at me from the darkness where the real work gets done.

My inspiration wall is full of old family photos; floating shelves full of books like Leaves Of Grass, Zen koan collections, and one of the five existing copies of my Grandfather's doctoral dissertation; 1,500 (or so) vinyl records with original pressings of masterpieces like John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Toto IV; art pieces by friends such as a painting entitled Portrait of a Rubber Chicken as a Young Man by Amy Eichsteadt; the Heart Sutra in Kanji; promo posters for past storytelling shows and music concerts I went to; as well as framed records by artist like Johnny Cash and The National.

I've learned most from collectively, audiences. They educate and motivate me, including the students I teach. Individually, my wife; she's brilliant, inspirational, insightful, my toughest critic and my biggest fan.

Good work should always be arousing. Multilayered. Universal. Individual. Intimate. Good storytellers are emotional Sherpas leading an audience down to our dimly lit inner spaces, but making sure we safely return to the surface by the end of the show. Great storytelling is the interconnection of audience and artist at the most basic level of live performance. No sentimentality just the truth of the human condition -- moving I and Them into We. Until the houselights come up, and We move our separate ways.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more ways of exporting our art and less ways of exporting our artists. Phoenix's strength and weakness as an artistic community is two sides of the same coin. We are not a scene that outsiders flock to for the lure of money and fame. Thus, we tend to be friendlier and more supportive to new artists than scenes in more competitive environments. Both literally and metaphorically there is a lot of open space here for artists to find and develop their creative voices. The flip side of this coin is that Phoenix does not generally provide long-term opportunities for its artists. Sadly, over the years, I've seen a lot of talented people leave. Ideally, I'd like us to grow into a scene that not only fosters new voices but also strengthens its current choir of artists through developing and marketing to a greater audience. In other words, more exporting of our art and less exporting of our artists.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski