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Nonprofit Hosts Storytelling at Manuels

Carapace offers true personal tales by ordinary people

By Randy Osborne

Most people have a five-minute story to share.

Carapace, a non-profit storytelling group, gives Atlanta residents such as Mike Schatz a platform to share stories and tell tales every month at .

Schatz remembers his father, a former CNN newscaster, lamenting the decline of serious news shortly before he retired.

"He sensed a change early on," said Schatz, as TV news “became less about journalism and more about who can be noisier.”

Schatz, who lives in the Grant Park neighborhood with his wife, Julie, and two children, was among the tellers at a special storytelling event sponsored by Carapace at the recent Decatur Book Festival. His contribution to “Persistence of Memory: Stories of Renewal from 9/11” dealt with the reaction of Schatz's family to the sometimes hysterical coverage of America's worst terrorist attack.

The story is not only dramatic and tinged with sadness, but often funny.

"There are still plenty of people who get into journalism for the right reasons," said Schatz, whose father died a few years ago, but overall, the reporting climate has worsened. Schatz works in advertising and does voice-over commercials, also writing and performing for Dad's Garage in Inman Park.

Every fourth Tuesday of the month, Carapace draws a standing room only crowd to Manuel’s Tavern, 602 N. Highland, where ordinary people tell five-minute stories on the night’s theme.  The theme for this Tuesday's show at Manuel's is "Faking It."

The event began in 2010 as an offshoot of The Moth in New York, and Carapace (formerly known as MothUP Atlanta) invites audience members to throw their names in a hat at the start of every show for a chance at telling their stories. Like Schatz's, the stories tend to be funny, dramatic and sometimes surprisingly moving. 

The group takes its name from the word for a tortoise shell. Its motto: "Everyone has a story. Come out of your shell." 

Carapace also offers shows with pre-scheduled tellers at selected venues that so far have included the book festival and the Museum of Design Atlanta. More shows are coming soon. Meanwhile, Carapace invites everyone to Manuel's. The show is free.

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--Randy Osborne is the director of Carapace Atlanta, co-founded with Joyce Mitchell, both of Inman Park.

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