Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Story of Stoytelling

Before e-mail, iPods, and the internet, before TV, movies and radio, even before magazines, newspapers and books, there were Storytellers. As soon as man started talking, there was somebody who told stories. The person who helped people understand the weather and the seasons and the forces of nature –not only what was happening but why; this was the Storyteller. The culture was aural and man learned principally by ear and observation. It wasn’t until the the fifteenth century that we had easy access to the printed word and this eventually led to the demise of the Storyteller and the rise of the writer. The writer never actually replaced the Storyteller he just took over some of the functions. Storytelling and writing are completely different art forms.

Storytelling is an interactive art form whereas writing is not. The Storyteller is constantly interacting with his audience – modifying his tone, rhythm, his language and style to the reaction of the listeners. He will even change his story for the benefit of his listeners. ”You’re not interesting in how stars are born? Okay, how about the land of the giant grasshoppers?”

There are certain special talents or aptitudes that a good Storyteller needs to successful.
He needs to have good memory , a powerful imagination, a good sense of humor, a “good ear” and the ability to mimic. He also needs patience and a genuine love of his craft. Storytelling must be a vocation not just an occupation.

I began Storytelling when I was a small boy, entertaining family and friends with stories of mine and others’ adventures. Making up stories about the world around me and what I believed to be the reasons for why and how people did the things they did. People enjoyed my stories and I was happy when they were but it wasn’t enough. Storytelling wasn’t the pathway to glory and I wanted to be rich and famous with my picture on the cover of Time Magazine. I wanted to be a famous writer. So I wrote stories but they never worked the way my Storytelling did. The words just sat on the page and nobody really enjoyed them because I couldn’t interact with my audience, gauging their moods and modifying my delivery and content as I went along. Storytellers never tell the same story twice unless they’re performing for small children .

So I gave up a writing career and tried acting but I was never satisfied just telling other people’s stories.


dave said...

Storytelling is such a great art. I have been to some good ones in North Carolina several years ago and once in Florida. There are some folk singers that also tell good stories with and between their songs. One of the best was a man from Florida; but he drowned several years ago.

pram said...

This is such a wonderful piece... With podcasts, maybe you can do some online storytelling. The media might have changed, but at the core, there's still the same need to connect.

Indigo Black said...

As soon as man started talking, there was somebody who told stories.

I think long before man could grunt there was someone doing a great deal of arm waving and running in place to tell of the great hunt with a few embellishments of course :)

Beautiful piece. I would love to hear one of your stories. I agree with Pram. Perhaps with the advent of podcasting you could recapture some of the magic of storytelling. I can tell you're great at it. With all that you have seen in your life time...those would be some great stories.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I really enjoyed your comments. My father continuously says something of the same thing to me all the time. "Your single, you have no kids. Now is the time to do whatever it is you want." Now if I can only get over this horrible propensity to procrastinate. :p