Thanks ‘Words’!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the ‘Words at the Wall’ show on Tuesday! And thanks to The Bridge for taking on the management of the Community Chalk Board!

Words at the Wall was a simple show. We had a hat full of passages from famous speeches. Volunteers stepped up, pulled out a passage at random, stood at the microphone, and read it cold. Then readers and audience members tried to guess where the speech came from. It was a fun way to give people the experience of rhetoric. Most of the speeches came from this site. They were all American speeches and except for one speech by George Washington, everything was chosen from the 20th century. The speeches varied from radio or television addresses by politicians to commencement addresses to speeches given at other public events or gatherings.

One favorite turned out to be this commencement address by Ursula Le Guin. Here’s a passage:

Success is somebody else’s failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. No, I do not wish you success. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to talk about failure.

Ursula Le Guin

From ancient times till only a couple generations ago, speeches were also used to debate issues in public that were actually voted on. It’s hard to believe but once there were deliberative assemblies at federal, state, and local level where lawmakers and decision-makers formed opinions from the debate. If we ever do another Words at the Wall-type event we’ll play with those kinds of speeches.

Special thanks to Big Blue Door storytellers and improvisers who bravely started the readings–Marjory Ruderman, Erik Swanson, Heidi Shaner, Susan Gorman, Kirk Martini, Deborah Arenstein, and Larry Goldstein–and the brave audience members and bystanders who stood up to the microphone and read as well.

Check out some pictures.

We’ll have more pictures and a link to pictures posted by The Bridge soon!

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