Storytelling shows are often seen as a communal experience. As someone stands in front of the crowd and spins their well-crafted yarn, the audience is let it on a stranger’s raw truth about the human condition. The Secret Society of the Sisterhood takes this experience to the next level.
The Los Angeles-based show, which makes its New York City debut on Tuesday, brings together a group of female writers, performers, activists and more to share stories, songs and artwork related around the night’s theme. This might sound like a typical show, until you learn that the audience and performers meet in a candlelit graveyard under a full moon, with the storytellers dressed in red velvet cloaks.
“It’s more of an event than a show,” Trish Nelson, the show’s creator and producer told amNewYork. “It’s visually stunning and then the sincerity of the stories is just amazing.”
Though it is only the storytellers who are wearing cloaks, the audience is fully brought into the experience. The show begins with everyone being sworn in to the “secret society.” “We do an oath and everyone grabs hands and that connects everyone from the start,” Nelson explained. The event ends with a dance party under the moon.
Despite some of the visual clues, Nelson says that it couldn’t be further from the occult. “I was originally creeped out by cemeteries, but there’s something about the history of a cemetery that brings together the most incredible night of storytelling,” Nelson said. “A cemetery is a celebration of life experiences.”
Treya Lam, a musician who will be performing an original song on Tuesday, explained that the cemetery only ties people closer together. “The show is a brilliant celebration of women coming from all backgrounds and experiences set in spaces that make us face our mortality, our greatest common denominator,” Lam said.
As a producer who has worked with Amy Schumer, “Key & Peele” and “Broad City,” Nelson is able to pull big-name talent for the event. This Tuesday’s offering at the historic Green-Wood Cemetery, includes actress and writer Amber Tamblyn, writer and activist Lorri Davis, stand-up comedian Ayanna Dookie, and best-selling author Dhonielle Clayton. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Girls Write Now, a nonprofit that provides support and mentorship opportunities for at-risk girls in New York City public high schools.
While the storytellers, artists, and musicians are all women, everyone is invited. “This is a connective experience,” Nelson said. “All the stories are extremely unique, but the themes are universal. They’re about love and loss, triumph and failure. This is really something to unite us rather than divide.”
The Secret Society of the Sisterhood, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Green-Wood Cemetery, entrance at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, green-wood.com, $25, members $20