"The Ultimate Story Showcase" at Black Cat Friday, Aug. 31

D.C.’s steadily growing storytelling scene is moving upstairs. Story League, the twice-monthly tale-telling contest co-founded early in 2011, has booked the Black Cat mainstage tonight. “And I Am Not Lying,” Jeff Simmermon’s New York-based storytelling series and blog, has twice played the venue’s 200-capacity “backstage”—the last time, in June, Simmermon and his partners did two shows the same night. (They also brought along two burlesque dancers.) But this will be the first locally produced storytelling show at the club, and the first to attempt to fill its 700-ish capacity upstairs space. Capacity will be less than what it is for all-standing music shows, because, says co-founder S.M. Shrake, the venue is putting in “cabaret-style” seating—chairs and small tables, and even some curtains to make the space feel more intimate. Shrake, who will also perform, has assembled a lineup of nine raconteur ringers, including Simmermon, Dawn Fraser, and local favorites John Kevin Boggs and Jason Pittman. Story League shows typically revolve around a loose theme, like “Revenge” or “Psychic Phenomena.” But Shrake says he’s trying something different this time: The Black Cat show will operate according to a “buddy system” he’s devised, with storytellers paired on the basis of their interpersonal chemistry or on the substance of their tales.

“The Ultimate Story Showcase” begins at 9 p.m. at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $12. storyleague.org.

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