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Meet Larry Dean Harris of Strong Words in Silver Lake

Today we’d like to introduce you to Larry Dean Harris.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve been a writer all my life. After years as a playwright, I turned to storytelling. When I began, I was performing at Spark in Santa Monica and Sit N Spin in Hollywood and having a ball. But we didn’t have a show like that in our neighborhood. So I banded together with 2 other writers I met at the legendary Body Builders Gym, and we produced our own evening of stories. Something clicked, and Strong Words was born. After 4 years in Silver Lake, we moved to nearby Atwater in 2016 in a glorious new outdoor venue at the St. Francis Center.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We hit two major speedbumps. Two years ago, we lost our really amazing space above the former Barbarella restaurant in Silver Lake (it’s still empty, ironically). But we eventually found a bigger, more beautiful outdoor venue in Atwater.

Then the election happened. And nobody wanted to laugh. We lost our mojo. I canceled a few shows. But in 2017, we came back strong and regained our momentum. Now we’re drawing bigger audiences than ever, and people are really responding to the shows. Besides storytelling, we have live music and a pop-up art gallery at each event.

Please tell us about Strong Words.
We’re building a community. There were actually salons like this in Silver Lake way back in the beginning, and I think we’ve tapped into that spirit.

Strong Words is not a showbiz event. It’s people – all kinds of people – coming together and sharing an experience in real time.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have sought out more diverse and eclectic performers. That took a while – to get the confidence to approach a celebrity or try something a bit unusual. Now we take more chances, and the audiences are really responding. This summer, we opened one of the shows with a sound bath. Everyone loved it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Michael Hirabayashi

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