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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Odyssey Storytelling Presents:


Curated by Tony Paniagua

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., Show starts at 7:00 p.m.

The Screening Room,

127 E. Congress Street, Tucson, $8

Escape for New York, from the planet of the  apes or from your own inhibitions. Leave the nest or remain at rest, we all have our dispositions. Perhaps it's a hobby, a favorite sport, a special place or a state of you get very tough or act extra kind? Get away from danger or face it head on?  If there's something you don't like you can sometimes run away although many times you'll have to stay. Escape..."break free from confinement, restraint or control.  Gain or regain liberty." Do you escape?

Storytellers: Betsy Bruce, Jim Doherty, Thom Melendez, Sirena Dufault, Ann-Eve Cunningham, and Amy Jorgensen!

Storyteller Bios:

As a kid in suburban Chicago Betsy Bruce practiced signing her autograph not knowing how she would acquire celebrity. As co-host of a popular Tucson morning radio show she signed autographs over the course of more than a dozen years. No longer in the position, she relishes not having to answer the alarm at 3 am no matter how dulcet the tones from her relic I-phone 4.  She also relishes walking dogs at Pima County Animal Care and writing for Tucson Lifestyle magazine.

As the son of a career Air Force Master Sargent,  Jim Doherty spent his formative childhood years (trying to behave himself so as not to ruin his father’s career) in such places as Tripoli, Libya, Merced, California and Biloxi, Mississippi. After graduating from high school in 1969 and being unlucky enough to receive a very low draft number, Jim immediately enlisted in the Air Force and served his country during the Vietnam War (1970-1974) stationed in Greece. (That is another story for another time.)  After successfully protecting Greece from invasion, Jim then received a B.A in film from Florida Atlantic University and moved to Hollywood to work in the film industry. Jim’s love of film (his wife calls it an obsession) stems from the release of Lawrence of Arabia during his three years living in Tripoli, working at the base movie theater and spending his lunch money on camel rides. ( Again, another story.)  Jim moved to Tucson in 1999 and loves it more all the time.

Thom Melendez is the youngest of seven children and one of three gay men in his family.  He has lived in Tucson since he was four as his family came here when his father was transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Throughout his life he often dreamed of living someplace, anyplace else, but now he can't imagine living and eventually dying anywhere else but Tucson.  This town is in his blood and his blood is in this town.  He is an alum of the UA and NAU and has spent his entire professional life (he's had at least three different careers in his short 50 years on Earth) in the service of others, whether as a social worker, classroom teacher of professional fundraiser.  Though no longer in the classroom, Thom's inquisitive nature makes him a life-long learner and instills a desire to teach-  always an educator.

Sirena Dufault escaped the cold Chicago winters over 20 years ago to study Archaeology at the U of A. Her passion is the 800-mile Arizona Trail, which she helped build, has hiked twice and is a contributing writer to the official guidebook. She enjoys exploring the diverse beauty of her adopted state through hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, canyoneering, and rafting. Sirena has honed her storytelling skills through her blog, Sirena's Wanderings (, public speaking engagements promoting the outdoors and as a rafting guide on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Ann-Eve Cunningham is the single mother of four tiny dogs, and co-parent to another — a fact that her mother will never get over. (“We sent you to good schools. You were a debutante for God’s sake. Could you not just do one small thing for me and marry a doctor??”) Among other things, she worked for the World Wrestling Federation, was a professional makeup artist, and planned weddings before realizing that her true calling was doing something that most people run from as fast as their little legs will go:  She’s a professional fundraiser, and is proud to lead the utterly brilliant Pima Library Foundation.  She is also a social documentary and fine art photographer with prints in collections around the world.  No — really.  In other words, at 51, she still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But we’re not judging.  In her spare time she rescues absurdly tiny dogs, and studies Tae Kwon Do — probably so she can beat people up who make fun of her dogs.

Interactive installation artist by passion, graphic designer by trade, and flower picker by whim, Amy Jorgensen is a human being. She has shown her art in all sorts of locales including a decommissioned NATO base in Iceland, the University of Ireland, in galleries in Boston, Portland (OR and ME), and on the tiniest island in New York City. Her recently self-published book, "Design Required: Interactive Installation Art to Promote Behavior Change" has won a total of zero awards but she really likes it. She usually showers, does a few downward dogs, and rearranges the furniture, daily.


Tony Paniagua ("bread and water, penny ago, café con leche") has been a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years, allowing him to disseminate thousands of reports from countless locations. Born in Colombia (not Columbia, SC or another Columbia) his parents moved to New York City when he was eight years old although he has also lived in Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Texas and Germany. When not listening to other people’s stories, Tony likes to get close to nature in the great outdoors, swim or jog, read, listen to international music and eat foods from around the world, especially if there's beer or wine as an accompaniment.  This is the fourth time he curates and hosts an Odyssey show in recent years. In February 2015 Tony took to the stage  as one of the storytellers, sharing an account about a couple of rogue and eerie eyelashes that required medical attention.  (For Tony, not the eyelashes.)


Venue: The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress Street, Tucson.

            Parking information found here, and a map identifying downtown parking areas here.



We’ve chosen themes for 2015 to make it easier for future

storytellers to see where your favorite personal story will fit in.

Next Up

October 1, 2015: “Home”

The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress, Tucson.

Do You have a story? Contact us!


Storytelling is a way to make connections with diverse and different people that you may not meet in your every day life. Because these stories are from our lives they may be amazing, messy, enlightening, disturbing, and entertaining . . . and more.


Six invited storytellers have ten minutes to talk about a specific theme. The stories are not read or memorized, they are told from the life experiences and creativity of the teller.

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