Need to ‘Unravel’ a little’?

Unravel starewell

Since the earliest cave drawings discovered in the PyreneesMountains of southern France, to One Thousand and One Nights – a story so good it is fabled to have seduced the King and saved the famous storyteller Scheherazade’s life, to more recently Steve Jobs delivering persuasive keynotes, the ability to tell a good story is what has bound and divided humanity. The medium is now through Hollywood movies, snapchat stories, WeChat, and creative commercials but the intrinsic desire to understand the world through stories remains the same.

Clara Davis, an American expat and storytelling enthusiast, is trying to remind Shanghai of this innate human trait.  Earlier this year she created, Unravel, a live storytelling platform where individuals share their memories and experiences based on a given theme.  Live storytelling means there is no hiding behind Instagram filters, prepared statements, or edits, it’s just the person and their story laid bare to the public.  The platform is gaining traction despite, or perhaps because of, the raw and vulnerable nature of live storytelling.


Clara Davis, creator of Unravel  

The first event was held this February 2017 in District Bar off Wulumuqi and Yuyuan, a bar Davis opened in partnership with the Belgian brewery group Duvel Moortgat.  Seven volunteers took their respective turn on the small stage to share their prepared stories to a packed crowd of expats and Shanghai locals squeezedin the bar.  The theme of the first nightwas ‘Impressions’.  The turnout exceeded Davis’s expectations.

Riding on the high of this success, Davis moved forward and planned the next Unravel event for the end of March.  The second event was hosted at the poke cafe Little Catch.  Davis says she always intended to hold the event at different venues, allowing the storytelling platform to mix and mold to the city’s different neighborhoods.  She also wants to ensure the voices are coming from diverse backgrounds so she set up an email account ( for storytellers to pitch their stories this way,to assure she is reaching out beyond her network.

The theme for the second event was ‘The Line: Crossing it,walking it, toeing it’.  It dumped rain that night but a good crowd still filled up the brightly lit second story poke café.  This time six storytellers took the microphone and revealed a little bit about themselves to the interested attendees. There was plentiful seating and better sound this time, but the ability to captivate an audience is more than just having a perfect set up oreven an interesting story to share.

Unravel speaker

Photo credit: Keith Esposito

A central component of any good story is the individual’sability to craft the tale. “If you don’t take into account story telling techniques” Davis explains “you can lose the value of the story”. A narrative needs to have a natural flow, a clear beginning, middle and end.  People should certainly tell stories that are meaningful to them but also understand how to cater thecontent to the particular audience.  Davis hopes in the future there could be the opportunity for more experienced storytellers to share their expertise with novices interested in getting up onthe stage.

The interaction between the storytellers and audience isalso a component that intrigues Davis about live storytelling events.  Unlike watching a movie or listening to a podcast, the listener is an active participant in the story.  Davis commented, she enjoys watching the audiences’ reaction to the storyteller – how the audience laughs with, smirks,or cringes as the storytellers “give a piece of themselves”.  The purpose of the events are in some way as much about creating a space for people to share their stories, as they are also about people coming together for a brief moment to form a whole new story.

Unravel top view

Photo credit: Keith Esposito

The third event is already planned for April 27th at recent Shanghai transplant TRIBE.  The theme of the stories will be centered around ‘Chance’.  Davis is already going through pitches to select the next round of storytellers.  In some ways this topic is the most fitting to describe her own story.  Landing in Chengdu, China to teach English, the culture and energy of China rolled her one year into five going on six years.  Now, equipped with a masters’ degree and a few more years of China experience, she has launched one of the most popular storytelling platform in Shanghai to date.  Admittedly, she chuckles there was also a bit of good luck and chance that brought her to this point.

Like Davis continuing to weave her own narrative, the Unravel storytelling platform is in its formative stages.  From all perspectives though, storytellers and listeners, it is certainly a story worth taking part in.



16-05-24_PigPen28_Banksy Does NY

Tue. 24 May, 2016
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer|wine|cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

October 2013, when infamous street artist Banksy revealed his New York City residency, he set off a daily scavenger hunt among curious fans, would-be art collectors and, of course, the police. With camera phones at the ready, everyone wanted a piece of his ephemeral works before they were destroyed—or removed for profit. Chris Moukarbel tracks the course of Banksy’s secretly created public works from the Lower East Side to Staten Island, Williamsburg to Willets Point, and explores the unprecedented speed of the public’s reaction.

PIGPEN CINEMA Presents Michael Jackson: Journey from Motown to OFF THE WALL

14-10-21_PigPen11_Vivien Maier

Tue. Apr 19, 2016
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer|wine|cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

“Director Spike Lee documents an in-depth look into the evolution of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and the cultural significance – and lasting impact – of his seminal first album as an adult, ‘off the wall.’”

Pigpen cinema presents: AMY


Screening on Tuesday December 08, 2015
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65-4 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer, wine, and cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

From director Asif Kapadia (SENNA), AMY tells the incredible story of six-time Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse – in her own words. Featuring extensive unseen archive footage and previously unheard tracks, this strikingly modern, moving and vital film shines a light on our culture the world we live in today. A once-in-a-generation talent, Amy Winehouse was a musician that captured the world’s attention with her unforgettable voice and charisma. The combination of her raw honesty and virtuosity resulted in some of the most unique and adored songs of our time.

Pigpen cinema presents: IRIS


Screening on Tuesday November 17, 2015
Doors at 9 | Movie starts at 9:30
65-4 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials on beer, wine, and cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn snacks
Space is limited to 35 seats
First come, first serve

More on the film: Iris (2015, 80 min., dir. Albert Maysles)
IRIS pairs legendary 87-year-old documentarian Albert Maysles with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how, even in Iris’ dotage, a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. IRIS portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life’s sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment. Despite the abundance of glamour in her current life, she continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression. “I feel lucky to be working. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.” (C) Magnolia

See trailer here on youku or youtube

P.I.G. Screening Series: Die Hard at the Grumpy Pig


On December 10, P.I.G. launches its Shanghai screening series with a special collaboration with our friends at The Grumpy Pig. And what better way to ring in the season than with a Hollywood holiday classic: “Die Hard” (1988). We’ll be screening the film and serving a special, Die Hard-themed menu – reserve now to make sure you don’t miss it!

The Grumpy Pig x P.I.G. China
“Movie & Grub”: Christmas Edition
Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 8pm @ The Grumpy Pig, Shanghai
Space Limited. Reservations: 6217-3355


Did you forget that “Die Hard” is an amazing Christmas movie? Watch the trailer again to refresh your memory…

The Golden Age of HK Ads

On December 13 & 16th, the Hong Kong Art Center will be screening what looks to be a truly delightful program of the golden age of Hong Kong TV advertising – from the 1970s to the present. The program will explore how these historic ads “embody local culture, reflect social reality and serve as important historical time capsules.”

A Retrospective of Local Advertising from the 70s to Present + HK4As Kam Fan Awards 2012, Dec 13 & 16 at Hong Kong Art Center, Agnes B. Cinema
More information here.

If you’re not in Hong Kong to attend, here are a few of our favorite classic HK TVC’s – what are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Philips TV ad featuring Chow Yun Fat… as a clown

Stephen Chow with seriously rad sunglasses

The secret life of anthropomorphic Yakult bottles (in cartoon form)

Do the Puma hustle!

Some deliciously analogue 80’s technology in this Fuji ad – floppy discs, VHS cassettes and Walkmen, oh my!

Dressing the Screen: Fashion Film in China

This upcoming British Council event in Beijing looks fantastic – . More details below:

The British Council is delighted to announce Dressing the Screen, an exhibition in China of close to 100 films that will bring together work by some of the worlds most famous and innovative fashion designers and film-makers from the last 50 years.

Organised in collaboration with the Chinese lifestyle magazine Modern Weekly International, and Swarovski Elements, Dressing the Screen will open in Beijing on 26th October 2012 and run for two weeks.

Featured designers and filmmakers will include SHOWstudio’s Nick Knight and Ruth Hogben, Alexander McQueen, Tim Walker, Rifat Ozbek, Vivienne Westwood, Ossie Clark, Hussein Chalayan, Gareth Pugh, Henry Holland and Burberry. The exhibition will highlight pivotal moments in fashion, film and technology – from pre-internet experiments such as the early films of Ossie Clark, Rifat Ozbek, Bodymap and Bella Freud, to pioneering technological advancements such as POST magazine, Burberry’s holographic catwalk show and Cassette Playa’s Augmented Reality.