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Thursday January 21st

Into the Wild takes storytelling to the next level in Forest Theater

<p>Performer Betsy Bertram tells a story about her late father during the Into the Wild event at the Forest Theater on Friday night.</p>
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Performer Betsy Bertram tells a story about her late father during the Into the Wild event at the Forest Theater on Friday night.

The Forest Theatre has been a space for a myriad of plays since it was built. However, it will soon house a much more stripped down, raw form of storytelling.

The Monti, in partnership with Townsend Bertram and Company, will be hosting "Into the Wild" on Oct. 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Forest Theater. Festivities will begin with a musical performance by Katharine Whalen, and about halfway through the show, storytelling will begin.

Betsy Bertram, from Townsend Bertram and Company, encouraged guests to either bring a picnic, or get food at one of the food-trucks that will be parked outside the Forest Theater during the event. 

There will also be a raffle with prizes from Townsend and Bertram Company that will benefit outdoor education programs for disadvantaged youth.

Bertram said people should be excited for the food, music and raffles, but the stories draw visitors back year after year and will draw an even larger audience than usual to the event’s fifth anniversary.

“Every year it’s completely different because there are five different storytellers and five different interpretations of what going into the wild looks like,” Bertram said.

At a recent “Into the Wild” show, the man who holds the record for the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail spoke about his historic hike. However, not all of the stories are tales of physical feats in the great outdoors.

Jeff Polish, co-producer and curator of the show, gave a broad definition of what “Into the Wild” means. 

“When you’re talking about ‘Into the Wild’ you might think about outdoor adventure, like going into the woods or doing something outdoors that’s risky or filled with conflict. But there are other types of wild out there as well, like the internal struggle. I want to explore that as well in a show like this,” Polish said.

Sarah Hughes, an investment manager and amateur anthologist, will be speaking at “Into the Wild” on Friday. Hughes said she is grateful for the opportunity to tell her story, and she feels speakers and the audience benefit from storytelling.

“We’re social creatures. We want to be known. But a lot of us are afraid to reveal our true selves. We try to tell people what we want them to feel or see about us, but I think a lot of us have things we’re insecure about,” Hughes said.

Polish shared a recent experience he had with one of his storytellers to reiterate that the opportunity to examine a part of one’s life and share it with others can have profound effects. 

“It had such an impact on her, this process of telling her story, that she quit her job,” Polish said.

Polish said the setting of the Forest Theater enhances the already powerful experience of storytelling.

“There’s nothing quite like sitting outside in a really intimate space like the Forest Theater. You’re not really in the middle of the forest, but it feels like you are. And man, that’s how storytelling should be – outdoors, quiet, intimate – several hundred people not making a sound as the storytellers are speaking,” Polish said.

@ajoleary_55

arts@dailytarheel.com

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