Testify is a monthly storytelling show, now in its 9th year. With all the changes over the past year, we are looking for a new space to begin our live shows in 2022. To date, Testify has brought over 215 storytellers and 386 stories to the stage.
Anchored in the belief that everyone has a story, the storytellers range from professional performers to people standing on a stage for the first time in their lives. Each month has a different theme, and five stories are selected that each reflect different aspects of that theme, connecting the stories and tellers in sometimes surprising ways.
The Testify Team
Ladi is an artist, improviser, award winning storyteller, and animal lover. He has taken part in story telling events for Testify, I’m from Driftwood, Drinking with the Saints, and the Moth, where he won with a story about sympathetic nausea and what it teaches us about love and connection. Ladi is also an award winning public speaker with Toastmasters International. He is a native Texan who currently resides in Austin with his partner, and the cremains of two elderly cats. Mocha and Tragedy hated each other in life, but in death they sit side by side on the mantle.
Angela Maldonado is an improviser, writer and storyteller from Corpus Christi. She’s drawn to narrative improv and loves to perform improvised telenovelas with her Shades of Brown compadres. Angela loves storytelling so much she started a show StoryTime at the Cactus Cafe, with the goal to let people hear some great stories and maybe sign up to tell their own. She’s pretty excited to be able to continue to bring people’s stories to the stage.
Mark is a Texas native who grew up on a farm, graduated high school from Aquilla, TX. (pop. 147) with nine other students, and as a kid, thought of capers as “foreign” food. Mark is a teacher, writer and live storyteller, and he is the co-founder of the Like Minded Lunatics Channel on YouTube. He believes the power of a compelling story can change hearts and minds, and also that a true Czech kolache is always sweet and entirely meatless.
Kate Caldwell is an Austin native, and a performer and writer with a BA in Theatre and Dance from the University of Texas at Austin. Growing up in a family of informal storytellers, Kate strongly believes in the importance of the art of storytelling and legacy of oral tradition. Kate hates bios but loves fried chicken and whiskey.
The story of Testify
On a summer night in June of 2013, Kate Caldwell invited Erin Feil, Genevieve Saenz, Kacey Samiee and Abby Ronaldes to a dinner party at her home – one with ulterior motives. Somewhat unbeknownst to the guests – all women with ties to performance communities in Austin – the dinner was actually a brainstorming session on how to put on a live storytelling show and after the meal was eaten and wine was shared, the work began. One of the first challenges was what to call this show, and inspiration came at the tail end of a politically charged summer at the Texas Capital, full of brave women and men offering personal stories as testimony, and the project was named Testify.
It took a few months of planning, scouting, calling in favors, more meetings involving food and a fair amount of nail biting, but they produced their very first show on September 27, 2013 to a sold out audience at the Salvage Vanguard Theater with the aptly chosen theme Creation. Josh Verduzco joined the team as the sound engineer, and Testify was put into motion. The team has changed over time – now produced by Ladislao Loera, Angela Maldonado and Mark Gifford, with Kate Caldwell remaining as a consultant – but the mission remains the same, to give people the space and empowerment to tell their stories.