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Storytellers welcome at Tampa open mic nights

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Published:   |   Updated: June 27, 2013 at 05:29 AM

With themes such as "my pounding heart," "small miracles" and "busted," Powerstories Theatre is offering a twist to the traditional idea of open mic night.

Twice a month attendees gather at the black box-like theater in South Tampa to share everyday stories in a more theatrical fashion.

The rules are simple - the story must be true, the story must be told and not read, and it must be told in five minutes.

Cheryl Flowers, the director of Open Mic Night, started hosting the meet-ups in a coffee shop two years ago. When the coffee shop closed, Flowers canceled open mic night for about a year before starting it back up in November.

Powerstories Theatre of Tampa Bay, founded by Fran Powers, is a nonprofit theater that showcases productions, workshops and seminars to empower women and girls to tell their true stories.

Flowers got involved during a SheVolution production that showcased the full spectrum of women. Though Powerstories is geared toward women and girls and empowering them to share their stories, Flowers said she wanted to offer something that was more inclusive. She realized that it would be beneficial to allow men to also tell their stories twice a month.

"It's lots of fun, and we encourage everyone to come up," she said. "Telling a story is healing, and it reaches out to people."

Heather Gilmer, a Tampa resident, has been attending open mic night since November.

"Everyone in the room is here for some purpose," Gilmer said. "I am supposed to help others see what gifts they have to bring."

Since its inception, Flowers has found ways to expand the experience. She started featuring themes, and she said it "opened a whole new realm."

Soon she plans to spotlight causes, such as breast cancer awareness month, child abuse and domestic violence in hopes of creating more community involvement.

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