Bare souls and F-bombs hit Rain City Chronicles

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      You might come to Rain City Chronicles to hear tales recounted on-stage, but cofounders Lizzy Karp and Karen Pinchin insist it’s actually the anecdotes exchanged off-stage that make their local storytelling series so much fun.

      “At the end of the show, people usually stick around and tell each other stories on the theme of the night,” says Karp, on the line with the Straight. “It’s like a bigger version of kitchen parties where everyone’s going around, ”˜The one time I broke my arm”¦’ ”˜Oh, but the one time I broke my leg”¦’ ”

      “It’s outrageously wonderful,” agrees Pinchin, an occasional contributor to the Straight, on the line later that day. “That’s the best part.”

      And this is what’s at the heart of Rain City Chronicles.

      Since the series launched in late 2009, the duo has worked to create a relaxed and supportive environment where everyday folks can open up to a room full of strangers, recounting tales of everything from botched pyramid schemes to phone lines hijacked by ghosts.

      “Themes are ever-changing,” says Karp, describing how the pair curates the ongoing event. With themes such as “firsts”, “mixed messages”, and “luck” to guide people in their quest to weave a good yarn, Rain City Chronicles has managed to cover some entertaining territory and, in the process, gained a devoted fan base, with supporters following the roving series all over Vancouver.

      “It’s been our mission to showcase different voices throughout the community, and that means moving into different neighbourhoods,” says Karp. “When we did a show at St. James Hall on the West [Side], we got a different crowd than when we’re on the East Side; we’re accessible to a different community.”

      Though Rain City Chronicles takes on a different vibe depending on where exactly the series pops up, Pinchin maintains that you can always count on the audience to be as wildly diverse as the anecdotes rattled off on-stage.

      “In certain scenes in Vancouver you just don’t get that overlap of the mid-20-something hipster and the 30-something artist and the 40-something businessperson, and then the senior who just wants to reach out to another community.

      “I was not anticipating that older people would love the profane stuff so much,” she adds, laughing.

      That’s not to say Rain City Chronicles is R-rated. But it is definitely a grab bag as far as content goes, with some storytellers choosing to bare their soul, others counting on comedy, and some skillfully doing both while dropping a few impeccably placed F-bombs.

      Karp and Pinchin welcome the different approaches, and work closely with the lineup at each event to ensure their narratives are chiselled just so—and under the seven-minute mark.

      “People can tell their favourite story and still wrap it up in a nice bow,” says Karp. “You know, bring it back to the theme.” Given that both gals make their living as wordsmiths, the duo is more than qualified to tune up the tales of others.

      “Obviously, our professions play in,” says Pinchin. “It wouldn’t have made sense for us to start an art show. This is a medium that we understand quite well.”

      So what’s in store for the next edition of Rain City Chronicles?

      “Our next show is Family Matters,” says Karp. “It’s our second show in a series called Vancouver in Six Acts. So it has to do with getting stories from Vancouverites about the Vancouver experience. It’s in honour of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary this year.”

      “I think that it’s really important to have this record of where the city has been and where it’s going,” offers Pinchin.

      Let’s just hope the unsuspecting family members featured in the stories told on Wednesday evening feel the same.

      The next installment of Rain City Chronicles comes to the Waldorf Hotel on Wednesday (March 30).