PechaKucha — Japanese for “chit-chat ” — is a phrase nobody in America seems to be able to remember or pronounce correctly upon first hearing it.
Not to worry. Vicki Yuan, an architect at Lake | Flato, introduced PechaKucha as a presentation concept to San Antonio audiences in the spring of 2011.
Today it’s still going strong.
The kicker is the format – the presenter shares a personal story using 20 images, displaying them for 20 seconds each, and talks along with the photos.
“We’re sponsored by the Las Casas Foundation and this is our ninth amazing year,” said Yuan, the mother-hen/psychologist/Broadway producer and harmonizer-on-call for every PechaKucha. “We’ve had shows at every conceivable venue — Confluence Park, Arneson River Theatre, The Majestic, The McNay, The Empire, Magik Theater, The Carver, Laurie Auditorium, The Tobin, Yanaguana Gardens. We’re always on the lookout for interesting, accommodating settings.”
PechaKucha — pronounced “Peh-cha Koo-cha” — started in Japan in 2003. Two Tokyo architects, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, devised a format that allowed creative people to share their ideas, musings, holidays — just about anything.
“I get asked all the time, ‘Are you like a TED (technology, entertainment, design) Talk?’ And that’s a lovely compliment, but we’re different in the sense we concentrate on the local and what’s unique to our area rather than on the broad, sometimes speculative themes of many TED Talks,” Yuan said.
Citing the varied participants in the PechaKuchas over the years, Yuan said each show is unique and always interesting.
“I remember thinking at our last Pecha (at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in December) when local, internationally acclaimed poet Naomi Shihab Nye had finished her very eloquent presentation, I shook my head in awe,” Yuan said. “This is the reason we do PechaKucha. To share our unique talents and contributions in a way that informs, inspires and transports.”
She added, “San Antonio’s changing so fast it’s important to recognize our uniqueness and at the same time be cognizant of the road ahead.”
Yuan has a wish list of prospective local speakers — singer Vikki Carr, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, journalist Elaine Wolff and actors Jackie Earle Haley and Jesse Borrego, among others.
“No fear we’ll run out of interesting people with diverse stories to tell anytime soon,” Yuan said. “And you might even meet your future spouse here. We’ve already had one marriage proposal from a presenter who met his fianceé at an earlier PechaKucha.”
Local luminaries who have appeared at PechaKucha include journalists Bob Rivard and Rick Casey, state Rep. Diego Bernal, former Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, former San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor, entrepreneur April Ancira, Gemini Ink cofounder Nan Cuba, architect Henry Munoz, author and urban planner Sherry Kafka Wagner and musician Jim Cullum.
They have joined the ranks of attorneys, chefs, glassblowers, DJs, bike mechanics, poets, tattoo artists, veterinarians, roller skaters, campaign managers, home inspectors and more to inform, entertain and titillate audiences.
Pecha Kucha San Antonio Vol. 33 is April 2 at the San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W. Jones Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for happy hour, performances begin at 7:30.
Admission is $5.
Tickets can be bought at the door or online at pechakucha.com.
For more, visit pechakucha.org/cities/san-antonio or https://www.facebook.com/PechaKuchaSAT/.