Arts Beat: Join the Club

'Blair Witch’ producer Robin Cowie organizes gatherings for those with tales to tell.

Robin Cowie loves the art of storytelling.  He’s got one you’ve probably heard about.  It’s pretty scary.

Cowie is one of the Orlando-based producers of The Blair Witch Project, the upstart, phenomenally successful horror film that was made for $20,000 in 1999 and wound up grossing $140 million.

Cowie rode that wave to Los Angeles, where in his leisure time he became involved in a nationwide oral storytelling club called The Moth.

Actually, “involved in” is putting it lightly. He has much fonder memories of the club than of the jaded star-making machinery of Tinseltown. Being a bigshot had its moments. Winning an award for his own oral storytelling was a lot more satisfying and authentic.

“The truth is I became addicted to it,” he says. “There is a connectivity and a community experience to telling stories live. It’s just as exciting as any other live performance.”

Cowie moved back to Orlando a few years ago “after seeing the best and the worst of Hollywood” and established a storytelling club, which up until now has met sporadically and in various locations—Enzian, East End Market, the Orlando Museum of Art. But starting next week, in a new partnership with the Downtown Arts District, it will have a home base and a regular schedule. It’s called The Orlando Story Club, and if you want to tell a story, voila: Welcome to the club.

Here’s how it works:

The club will meet once a month at The Abbey, a nightclub and laid-back gathering spot in Thornton Park.  The door charge is $5, all of which goes to a different charity each month. There will also be a different storytelling theme each month.  The first meeting, hosted by local radio personality Carlos Navarro, is Jan 6. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the event is 7 to 9. You can come just to listen to the stories, or you can draw a number to be one of 10 people who’ll get the chance to take the stage and tell a tale.

Make it a scary one if you want, but that’s not necessary, says Cowie.

“The best stories tend to be very real, very funny, and very human,” he says. “And we live in a great town with a lot of great stories.”

Including yours.

For more information on Orlando Story Club, including guidelines and the 2016 schedule, visit

Categories: Arts Beat