Rita Clarke

Rita Clarke won the Lancaster Story Slam’s grand slam with her story about change and racism.

Nine storytellers went on stage last week to tell stories about change to see who would be named the best storyteller in Lancaster County.

Rita Clarke won the Lancaster Story Slam’s grand slam with her story about racism. She won a trophy and the title of best storyteller in the county at the Ware Center.

Clarke lives in Lititz, is active in regional theater and has portrayed people traveling on the Underground Railroad. In the story slam, she competed against Swapna Deshpande, Karen Foerstel, Terri Shadle, Pat Carmody, Jeff Howe, Tony Crocamo, Beth Horenkamp and Gina Melasecca. Each storyteller earned a seat at the sold-out grand slam by winning a monthly story slam.

At the monthly story slams, people sign up to tell a story based on a theme for the night. The stories must be about five minutes and as true as can be remembered.

In Lancaster Story Slam’s fifth season, people told stories about topics like pet peeves, curiosity and warning signs. The group also moved to Zoetropolis Theatre. The big grand slam usually sells out, so organizers moved to the larger Ware Center, says Carla Wilson, event producer. The Ware Center had about 30 percent more seats and still sold out.

The story slam will return in the new year at Zoetropolis, but dates have not been set yet, Wilson says. Themes for the 2020 story slams will be released next week at lancasterstoryslam.com.

Organizers are also planning to host a storytelling workshop in the first quarter of the new year, possibly March. There, people can get some guidance on what makes a great story, Wilson says.

Here is Rita Clarke’s winning story:

Videos of the monthly slams and the grand slam are on YouTube.