CNM Theatre Program Teams Up with National Performing Arts Organization to Launch Spring Podcast Series

The podcast features a wide variety of non-fiction stories written and performed by CNM students
April 12, 2022

Looking for a way to keep performing during the COVID-19 pandemic, CNM’s Department of Theatre and Dance got creative and decided to launch its own podcast, CATLab Presents. Now in its third season, CATLab Presents recently teamed up with Story Club, a national performing arts organization, to produce its current podcast series.

That series launched last Friday, April 8, and consists of seven episodes. The episodes are 8-10 minutes long and each one was written and performed by a different CNM student about a true experience from their life.

“I’ve been wanting to bring Story Club to Albuquerque, and because of the pandemic and not knowing if we would be able to have a production in the Coal Avenue Theater, I thought this was the perfect time,” says Lori Uebelhart, a CNM theater instructor and director of this spring’s production.

Story Club, which is based in Chicago, was founded in 2009 by Dana Norris and now has chapters in half a dozen U.S. cities. The idea behind Story Club is to combine the spontaneity of an open mic performance with the experience of live theater by having performers write their own non-fiction stories and then put them on for an audience.

“As part of our rehearsal process, Dana Norris actually did two separate workshops with our students, so it was really wonderful that the founder of Story Club was able to hear their stories and give them feedback,” Lori says.

Over the course of six weeks, the students worked to fine-tune their stories before meeting to produce the podcast. Recording was different from performing in front of a live audience, but Loris says the goal was still the same: to create a production that showcased student writing and creativity.

“There are no two stories from this podcast that are alike. We have coming-of-age tales, stories about karma and fate, friendships changing over time; we even have a story from one of our performers about their experience climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro,” Lori says.

While some of the stories have a more serious tone, others are light-hearted and comedic. Ultimately, the students hope that by sharing their stories they can connect with listeners in a way that feels intimate and familiar. 

“This is like nothing I’ve done before in theater in that I’m literally playing the role of myself looking back in time,” student Gregory Gargano says. “It was a wonderful opportunity to explore who I’ve been versus who I am now and to be able to look at the experience with a different perspective.”

This may be the first time many New Mexicans have heard of Story Club, but Lori hopes it’s only the beginning. Eventually, she would even like to start a local Story Club group that hosts shows and storytelling workshops on a regular basis.

“Our department wants to provide art and theater not just for our students but for the larger community,” Lori says. “We have such a great history of storytelling in our state, so I was happy to partner with a national organization to showcase the wonderful stories from New Mexico.”

CATLab Presents is available wherever you get your podcasts. Learn more about CNM’s Theater program here.