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Backstage at Stereo Stories

Vin Maskell, MC and curator of Stereo Stories Live, gives us a glimpse into how the show comes together.

The band is setting up in my loungeroom:  Peter Maskell  and Jack Gramski with their guitars and  microphones and amps and leads, Anthony Shortte with his drumkit, Rob Gador with his bass guitars and amps.

Writers arrive with their stories, ready to edit their words so that the interplay of story and song is just right. The Stereo Stories combination of music and memoir requires creativity and flexibility and give-and-take. There would be no Stereo Stories without the writers. And there would be no show, no Stereo Stories Live, without the musicians.

In my study I’ve got the printer working overtime, making sure everyone has the latest drafts of the stories, with the cues for when the music weaves in and out. To coin a cliché, everybody has to be on the same page.

We have some new writers in the ensemble this year, including Andy Griffiths. And Brian Nankervis  (RocKwiz, ABC 774) returns to the Stereo Stories stage after being part of our inaugural show at the 2014 Willy Lit Fest.

We finalise the set-list two months ahead of the show, seeking to create an evening of light and shade, of poignancy and humour, and of various genres of music. This year, for example, we’re doing our first Stereo Story about classical music featuring the Williamstown Town Hall’s grand piano. It will be played by Jennifer Lund, who is also very busy with the Lit Fest’s finale on Sunday, Art and Social Change, featuring Mark Seymour and local choirs.

In-between the group rehearsals there are emails and text messages and phonecalls about a paragraph here and a chord progression there, about the intros and outros, about recording and filming and lighting and so much more.

On the day of our show, Saturday 18 June, I’ll have to forego some Lit Fest sessions, as we rehearse one last time. So, my apologies in advance for not being able to get along to hear about new books by Arnold Zable, Stuart Coupe, Sofie Laguna, and others.  Or to see Nick Gadd’s session about writing and walking and the suburbs.

Come Sunday 19 June, I’m tossing up between learning more about The Dressmaker or Penguin Books or footy.  They’re all at the same time! And I’m trying to work out how I can be in two places simultaneously for The Footpath Library (where I’ll learn a thing or two from acclaimed actors about narrating stories) and The Light On The Water, where I’ll learn about Olga Lorenzo’s new book. Spoilt for choice!

Stereo Stories Saturday, 19 June, 7.30pm to 10pm. Tickets are selling well, get a group of friends together to make up a table (10 to 12 people will fit) for a wonderful night out at the beautiful Williamstown Town Hall.

Stereo Stories thanks the committee of the Williamstown Literary Festival for the enormous amount of work it does, all voluntary, over many months.