Our Story

Zoë McNichols

Madeline Zoë McNichols, founder of the Scranton StorySlam

Our story begins in Scranton, Pennsylvania…

The Scranton StorySlam is a unique storytelling competition at which ten storytellers each share a true, five-minute, personal story inspired by the evening’s theme. Stories are told without notes, allowing the storytellers to connect with the audience in a spontaneous and authentic way.

While storyslams are becoming popular around the country and around the world, the Scranton StorySlam is the first of its kind in northeast Pennsylvania. The Scranton StorySlam was founded by Madeline Zoë McNichols as her senior project at Abington Heights High School. After seeing a storyslam in Brooklyn with her family, Zoë decided it was something she’d like to attend more often and share with her friends back home. She found the fusion of theater, writing, memoir and documentary art irresistible.

Working with Maureen McGuigan, the Director of Arts and Culture for Lackawanna County, Zoë was able to make her vision a reality. Over 160 people attended the first Scranton StorySlam, which debuted at The Vintage Theater on March 31, 2012.

Our story continues with the Scranton Fringe.Four years later, in the spring of 2016, the Scranton StorySlam became part of the Scranton Fringe Festival‘s year-round arts programming. With the event under the wing of the Scranton Fringe, things have come full circle. The folks who gave the StorySlam its start at the Vintage Theater, including Vintage co-founder and current Fringe Executive Director Conor O’Brien, are now bringing these popular events to the community and keeping the story alive.


Madeline Zoë McNichols attended both the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio and the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop. She has also participated in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, from which she was awarded a certificate of High Honors. Currently a student at Vassar College, she is expected to graduate with a concentration in Political Science in May 2017. To learn more about Zoë, you can read her bio written for the first Scranton StorySlam here.

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