Storyteller. Coach. Consultant.
Vara Cooper is a Moth Story Slam champion and winner of the 2017 National Story Slam at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. She emcees and co-produces Synergy Story Slam, West Asheville's longest-running story slam, and has performed on various stages including RISK!, David Joe Miller presents WORD!, Listen to This, First Person Arts, Commonspace at WHYY, This Much Is True, and Pour One Out. She was also featured at the 2017 Gotham Storytelling Festival in New York City.
Vara first took to the storytelling stage in 2016 and has been charming audiences with her authentic, humorous, edgy, heart-rending tales ever since. At the core of every performance is the desire to do her life experiences justice and make the audience feel a complex array of emotions. She is honest, fearless, and vulnerable. Her stories are entertaining, daring, and real.
Vara has been an educator since her days on the preschool playground where she taught her classmates to tie their shoes and spell their names. More recently, she’s taught students age 8-98 in subjects ranging from writing to knitting, and she has coached, mentored, and supported emerging authors and storytellers since 2010.
As a classroom teacher, Vara developed a passion for curricular design and adaptation, and as a college writing instructor, Vara found her true calling: helping adult learners to find their voices, own their narratives, and share their stories with the world. She brings this enthusiasm and experience to individual coaching sessions, group workshops, and professional development seminars at organizations looking to improve their communications strategies with storytelling.
Vara earned a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature from New York University, master’s degrees in English and Adolescent Education from Hunter College, and master’s certification in Academically and Intellectually Gifted Education from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Vara is a native New Yorker who has traveled through thirteen countries and 49 states, but has never been to the Grand Canyon or the top of the Empire State Building. Her favorite color is green.
Finding Your Voice
An introductory storytelling workshop for generating ideas, practicing stories, sharing feedback, and learning to revise first drafts and other works in progress. The goal is to leave with at least one polished story.
Owning Your Narrative
A supportive workshop for tellers exploring and developing their most challenging stories. Embrace vulnerability and process memories and experiences through the lens of character and story arc development.
Kill Your Darlings
An editing workshop for storytellers. Experiment with structure, tone, tension, and other finer points of story craft. Create a pitch, a 5-minute slam story, and a 10-minute stage version of the same piece.
Warts and All
How to turn your flaws and failures into endearing, entertaining stories. Craft your messes, mistakes, and other inglorious stories into relatable tales. Bring your authenticity, leave with your dignity.
For the Page
Individualized support and developmental editing for writers of personal narrative. Want to write your memoirs or transform your stage pieces into polished written stories? Contact me to get started.
For the Stage
Private feedback sessions for performers of personal narrative. Need to practice your slam story or solo show? Want to take your performance to the next level? Are you preparing to tell your first story on stage? Let's talk.
Infuse your brand and messaging with storytelling to connect people to your products and services. Each person, each department, each era of your business has a story that makes your company unique.
Inspire, motivate, and connect people within and beyond your cause with personal narrative. Learn to harness the power of story to strengthen bonds between team members, build bridges in your community, and call people to action.
Build a strong academic community with storytelling. Customize professional development programs and dynamic student curricula that align with language arts, social studies, STEM, and other accountability standards.
For Your Group
Entertain guests at your gathering, retreat, reunion, or any special occasion with professional storytelling, and enhance any event by archiving your stories. Create audio, video, and written keepsakes of your shared history.
For more information about coaching, workshops, booking shows, or consulting, drop me a line.