Stars Align: Story Story Night's Jodi Eichelberger on the Upcoming 'Pleiades' Show 

Jodi Eichelberger wears a lot of hats. He's an actor, the program coordinator at Surel's Place and, on a fall afternoon at Slow By Slow with coffee in hand, he wore the hat of artistic director for Story Story Night.

Since taking the job, he has been a creative force at Story Story Night, which began in 2010 as a storytelling slam. It was a simple—and popular—concept, but at the helm, Eichelberger quickly began to innovate, amping up the slam themes, forging partnerships with outside arts organizations and taking his show on the road. The most recent slam took place at the Meridian Speedway, and he has already initiated relationships in eastern and northern Idaho to break Story Story Night out of the Treasure Valley.

"This year, we're expanding so we will have a live audience in Moscow, so they'll be streaming the show at a theater there," he said. "Then, after the third feature, they're going to cut the transmission and they're going to have their own story slam."

For the next Story Story Night event, titled Starry Story Night: The Pleiades, Eichelberger will slam with the stars. Astronomically, the seven Pleiades make up a star cluster near the constellation Taurus; mythically, they're seven sisters who figure prominently in legends from all over the world; in the show, they're seven women, previously unknown to each other, who will perform a scripted story slam for the first time in Story Story Night history.

"The script is created from a combination—a hybrid, really—of these storytellers sending in a written submission and then doing a live interview," Eichelberger said. "It's 99.2 percent their words in the script, but it switches between a cut-copy-paste and me transcribing what they said, mixing that into their written words."

The Pleiades myth is a tragic one. In one story about the sisters, after their father, the titan Atlas, is forced to carry the world on his shoulders, his seven daughters are pursued by the hunter Orion to the point that Zeus turns them first into doves, then finally into the star cluster. Orion, having transformed into a constellation, continues his pursuit. The millennia-old Greek myth has a #MeToo era bent to it.

Eichelberger said The Pleiades won't shy away from that element, though other themes also emerge, all with mythological parallels. In the Druidic tradition, the star cluster is highest in the sky at the end of October, signaling a thinned veil between the worlds of the living and the dead. (If that sounds Halloween-y, it's because celebrations of this astrological event were a precursor to All Hallows Eve.) Other themes include sisterhood, suicide and invisibility.

"Most people can see six of the [Pleiades] with the naked eye. Some people say they can see all seven. That its is why one of the sisters' invisibility comes up, and a central [theme] for some of the women [participating in the story slam] is being invisible," Eichelberger said.

This particular slam marks the first time that Story Story Night will partner with the Boise Philharmonic on a show. Tunes from the string chamber group will accompany the stories, including the theme from the ballet Scheherazade—a good fit for a story slam.

"[The musicians] have a repertoire of music that's part of their set, and I sent that list to our storytellers and asked if there was anything that resonated," Eichelberger said. "... There were some interesting responses."

See how the dots connect at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at JUMP.
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