Adieu, SpeakEasy

March 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Photo courtesy of Julie Staub; taken in our own basement.

On Tuesday night, SpeakEasy, one of Cornelia’s most beloved spoken word series, came to an end after five years. The series’ creator and helmsman, Sherry Weaver, was reached for reflection on the occassion. Unsurprisingly, she was not at a loss.

Weaver’s life on stage began as a storyteller with the now-acclaimed multimedia series The Moth. “Nine years ago I was sitting in the audience, and the executive director then [who was a friend] asked me if I had a story to tell. The theme was sex and money, and I had never been employed, so she thought it would be fun for me to try it. So I told stories with prostitutes and dominatrices and how I met the man I that I live with for now 17 years, and how he was a feminist and wanted me to get a job and our ongoing battle, and how I won.” Weaver’s tales were a hit and she became a regular on the Moth stage. Then, after a two year hiatus, she returned to find it was a scene different from the one she’d left. “When I came back to the Moth, they had changed directors and changed directions. They were going for corporate sponsors and famous people. In truth, The Moth really started the storytelling scene, and they started with nuns and firemen…regular people.  I saw then that there was this huge gap emerging. So I started SpeakEasy.”

Weaver began with five shows at Park Slope’s now-defunct Spoken Words before crossing paths with our magnet, Robin. She did a night at Cornelia’s old sister venue on 5th and President, Night and Day. As the night grew, Weaver moved her sights to Manhattan. “I went over to Cornelia Street one day and as soon as I saw the downstairs space I thought, I have to have a show here.” At first Robin demurred; they were booked up for the month, he insisted. “I don’t hear no,” says Weaver, “only ‘maybe, ask again soon. I don’t say no, either; that’s why I’ve told 700 stories on stage”.

Sure enough, longtime regular David Amram ended up canceling that month, and a spot emerged. “It’s Rosh Hashannah,” Robin insisted. “You’ll get no one.” Weaver, determined, tapped her vast network for support for SpeakEasy’s new venue, and, on October 4th, served apples and honey to a full house Downstairs. When Amram canceled again the following month and Weaver once again filled the space, she was given the permanent spot she came to hold for over five years, up until last night’s finale performance. “I call Robin and Angelo the guardian angels of SpeakEasy because they made everything so easy. And it’s wonderful. In New York, where it’s so hard to do everything–it’s not hard there.”

“I have no vision of my future,” Weaver said of her plans after SpeakEasy. “I’m very happy. I don’t need a project, I don’t need to do anything. I just want to enjoy myself.” She added, with some whimsy, “I hope nothing interesting ever happens to me, so that I will have no need to tell a story.”


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