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'Mortified' storytelling heads to Sundance, taking a healthy dose of Baltimore with it

Some of the folks behind "Mortified Baltimore." From left: Alexandra Hewett, Jennifer Clarke, Dave Nadelberg, Adam Ruben, Caryn Sykes and Neil Katcher.
Some of the folks behind "Mortified Baltimore." From left: Alexandra Hewett, Jennifer Clarke, Dave Nadelberg, Adam Ruben, Caryn Sykes and Neil Katcher. (Photo supplied by Alexandra Hewett)

Filmed selections from “Mortified,” a storytelling show in which adults from Baltimore and more than 20 other cities worldwide get to share some of their adolescent angst with a live audience, are headed to the Sundance Film Festival this week.

“It’s a stage show in which adults share their childhood diaries, love letters, poetry, songs they wrote when they were a kid,” says Alexandra Hewett, one of the producers for the “Mortified” shows that take place in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. “Your piece is always derived from your own archives.”

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The filmed compilation being shown at Sundance this week, “The Mortified Guide to Family,” was compiled from shows that took place in various cities, including Baltimore. Which is why Hewett and her co-producer, Adam Ruben, will be in Park City, Utah, where screenings are set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

"This Is Home: A Refugee Story," a documentary following the lives of four refugee families as they resettle in the Baltimore area, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next week.

“We’re really excited,” says Hewett, a former psychotherapist who, when she’s not urging adults to bare their adolescent souls, teaches at the Johns Hopkins University, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and the Sheppard & Enoch Pratt Hospital.

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People’s submissions, pulled from their experiences at age 21 and younger, are read live on stage at “Mortified” storytelling sessions held throughout the year (the next ones locally are set for 6 and 9 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Ideal Arts Space, 905 W. 36th St., Hampden). They invariably are filled with lots of anxiety and confusion, and are frequently hilarious, Hewett says.

“They’re fraught with angst. They’re very turbulent. You know — you’re growing up. You don’t know what you are doing,” she says. “I think there’s something that’s beautiful, that we can all relate to, trying to figure it out.”

"Dinner Party," a 13-minute virtual-reality film co-written and co-created by Baltimore's own Laura Wexler, gets its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

The segments filmed in Baltimore took place in October 2016 at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Some man-in-the-street segments were also filmed, Hewett says.

“You know, as an adult, we still don’t know what we’re doing,” she says. Which may explain why audiences find this stuff so funny.

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