Bohemian Storytelling Tours: like a walk, but weirder
Celebrating Portland Oregon–and the universe!
Bohemian Storytelling Tours is helping to keep Portland weird, with our unique take on the old walking tour. Since 2006, we have performed tours that weave together theater, storytelling, and bits of audience interaction, accompanied throughout by a live musical soundtrack.
Of course, it didn’t come easy. Here’s the story of how we started out, and how now you can enjoy our work anywhere, anytime, thanks to Portland’s first and presumably only downloadable audio podtour.
Before you read on, though, one quick note of great appreciation. The image at left features our sandwich board in the foreground, which was painted by the incredibly talented Veronica Fannin.
How It All Began
(and how it continues)
When I moved to Portland in 2003 I had uprooted myself to avoid getting trapped in Florida, where I grew up. I figured I could work paycheck to paycheck and make art on the side just about anywhere, so why not find a place that rang true?
Portland is a place where people make art for fun and just get it out there on the street, usually without the help of a big institution or established framework. I wanted to write and direct theater, but finding a space and finding a cast who’d volunteer their rehearsal time didn’t work out. So I created these theatrical walking tours as a way to make theater that didn’t need a cast and didn’t need a (conventional) space– and it was a way to learn more about the place I had chosen to call home. And of course, it was a creative work in which I could hopefully examine the everyday in a way that lights it up with a glimmer of the profound.
I recruited a musician friend and we played improv games together as a way of developing our scene material. Meanwhile I researched. A lot. Then we practiced. We recorded ourselves on video for each run through of the tour, giving one another notes. After a lot of time and energy and beer, we felt ready to take it out into the world. That first tour, called Deep Water, was an exploration of humankind’s– and Portlandkind’s–relationship with water. In it, we ask whether a river is held captive by its bridge. We examine the life of a raindrop on its journey from sky to sea. And we draw on the perspectives of many.
After developing that first tour I stood out in our downtown waterfront park every Sunday afternoon, handing flyers to passersby and offering to perform the two hour tour for any takers, right then. That feels like a long time ago now. (Actually it was about six years ago.) Since those days, and with the continued musical help of my friend Jay, I’ve written and performed two more tours, and secured grant funding for the creation of our downloadable podtour.
We’ve always offered a few performances each year as ‘pay what you will’ tours, and the podtour continues that trend. We don’t expect our listeners to follow the route we carved out over the years; here’s the chance to carve your own– or to listen to the performance by a warm fire during a cold, wet, and gray Portland winter (though years ago we led one of these theatrical tours in the snow!). While it’s a different experience to be with us on site, we think our audio podtour will make sense wherever our listeners happen to be, perhaps far from the city that helped inspire it.
We hope you’ll check it out. If you do, we hope you’ll find magic in it.
Here are the links that’ll get you to the good stuff.
podtour download page.
We always send out a little email to folks who’ve signed up for one of our pay what you will tours. That inspired this download page; like the info you would want before you show up for a walk with us. Just scroll down and click the word “download” if you want to get right to the audio we’ve been talking about.
podtour download link.
Don’t even want to see the podtour download page? Click this link to immediately begin downloading our podtour zip file– an album of 30 short mp3s. I’m told some people like to teleport right into a house without bothering with the front door. That’s what this link is like.
support our work.
You heard us? You liked us? Now you want to support us?
We are proud to make these performances available to all. Every year we offer ‘pay what you will tours’, including our downloadable podtour. How can we afford to do this? Only with your support!
bohemian storytelling tours’ home page.
A fine starting point for figuring out just what this thing is we call a theatrical walking tour. Jay and I organized our ideas by playing collaborative games, but he’s the one who really designed and built it. Let’s give him a collective pat on the back.
Deep Water intro video.
The podtour is a performance of the first tour we created, called Deep Water. Want to get some sense of what it might look like to see it in person? This video offers about 60 seconds to do just that.
more about our other tours.
I mentioned we created a couple of other tours over the years. Here’s a bit more info about those.
We’ve always carried a guestbook with us on our tours, and folks on our walks have been so generous with their very thoughtful responses. We truly value that. Belated thank-you’s to the real-pen scrawling guestbook writers of years past, and thanks in advance to you, for your feedback, right here.