More than meets the ear: Podcast brings transformative stories to life

More than meets the ear: Podcast brings transformative stories to life
Photo by Jason Speakman

A change is gonna come.

A podcast of transformational stories will alter its format for a live performance at Pete’s Candy Store on Aug. 11, with mixed-media storytellers taking to the stage to share the moments that changed their lives.

The podcast “Arrvls” focuses on stories of migration, transformation, and unexpected changes, whether that means leaving a damaging job or surviving a plane crash. The details differ, but each story is about the revelations that happen during a life-altering experiences.

“I like to think of it as the most profound moment in our lives,” said creator and host Jonathan Hirsch. “That moment when you find yourself in a place you never expected to be that totally transforms you.”

“Arrvls” captures those moments in interviews and melds them with affecting soundscapes and music. Hirsch says he launched the podcast because he was fascinated by peoples’ experiences, and by using radio as a storytelling medium.

“I was interested in telling peoples’ stories and the intimacy of it — how you’re whispering something in someone’s ear from anywhere in the world,” he said.

Now he’s putting the podcast on stage, expanding the intimate format to make room for dialogue and audience participation. The event will feature live storytelling, music, and video projections, with all-new stories. It will also feature the podcast’s first work of fiction — an internal monologue of a man who he has a nervous breakdown at a party and starts talking to his dead grandfather. The piece, written by Hirsch and presented by collaborator Brian Garcia, will have an immersive aural environment.

“It’s being alone with your thoughts for five minutes,” said Garcia, producer of the “Aural Regions” podcast. “You’re hearing all these different sounds around you — the party, the music — and how that soundscape is changing as he’s thinking these things.”

The live event’s theme is “Endless Summer,” but the stories will feature a dark spin on the concept, focusing on the dread someone might feel if summer really never did end.

“It’s more about the confines of it as opposed to the ‘endless’ part,” said Garcia.

Each story will stay true to the mission of “Arrvls,” exploring what people do when the unexpected barrels into their lives.

“You stop looking at what you thought things were going to be like and you stop expecting things to turn out the way you hoped they would, and you just do what you need to do,” said Hirsch. “Sometimes those moments are the most wise and insightful in a person’s life.”

“Arrvls Live” at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer Street between Richardson and Frost Streets in Williamsburg, (718) 302-3700, www.petescandystore.com.] Aug. 11 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.