Backbone is Back

By Steven Libowitz   |   March 12, 2020

There are a lot of opportunities for locals to compose, create, perform, and or just partake in storytelling, as evidenced by the ongoing Personal Stories series – the showcases that feature local actors and writers developing first-person true stories that fit a theme to share at Center Stage Theater in the periodic events that outlived the main events of its parent/sponsor Speaking of Stories. (The next entry hits the black box theater over a four-day stretch April 28-May 1, with a submission deadline of March 16 at

Then there’s The Moth Mainstage, which began as a modest storytelling collective in its founder’s living room and has grown into an epic, nationwide phenomenon with a cult-like following as hand-picked storytellers share their tales in front of live audiences and over the air. That series – which was the inspiration of SOS’ Personal Stories – returns for another spellbinding evening at the Lobero Theatre on March 19 in which the tellers offer somewhat more animated delivery.

But neither one gets as deep into what might be called the spiritual side of things as Backbone Storytelling, which asks its performers to not only get immersed in their tales but also embody them. Created and curated by Jenna Tico – a ninth-generation Santa Barbara native whose oeuvre includes both dance and facilitating for AHA!’s social and emotional intelligence program for teenagers – the single-evening shows become a space to share the meaningful, moving, and mortal stories inspired by the human body in all of its glory. Each showcase features stories that are as physical as they are emotional, and the performers are encouraged to tell them through both spoken and nonverbal language. The submissions are culled to represent the diversity, vulnerability and truth associated with the theme of each show.

For its next presentation, at Yoga Soup on Saturday, March 21, from 6-9 pm, the theme is Cutting Teeth, which means whatever it does to the storytellers. Following a “Community Mingle” to create connection from 6-7 pm with live music by Phillip Rogers and Austin Moore, the showcase will feature the voices, and choices, of Rachael Quisel, Rudi Lion, Jeffrey Berke, Nicholas Farnum, Mario Mendez, Elaine Gale, Samantha Bonavia, Miguel Rodriguez, and Emily Chow-Kambitsch, each of whom will share something visceral, vulnerable, or both. Admission is just $10. Reservations are recommended as the series’ first installment at Yoga Soup sold out.


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