Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ask the storyteller: Your turn!

This week on #askthestoryteller I'm taking a little break and asking you some questions. I'm enjoying this series and I hope you are too.

  1. What do you love most about being a storyteller? About being a listener?
  2. Do you consider yourself a storyteller? A performing artist? A writer? A passionate fan?
  3. What are your biggest storytelling challenges?
  4. What kinds of stories are you telling these days to what audiences?
  5. What would you like to be telling and to whom?
Let's get a conversation going about the current state of performance storytelling. I'd love to know what the storytelling world is for you.

As always, I welcome your questions and look forward to delving more into the art and craft of storytelling.

(c)2015 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. What I love most about being a storyteller is getting to create an experience where others discover something new, whether a new story to share, or a memory they had forgotten, or a new way of thinking of things. I am loving what you, Laura, have taught me about being a better listener because I take myself out of the equation and catch more of what the other person is sharing, expressing, feeling.

    I think I consider myself as a storyteller, but less of a performing artist or entertainer, and more of a creator of to discover, to find connection to ourselves, to each other, and maybe even that someone bigger than ourselves. I like creating space for people to be courageous and learn something about themselves they never thought before.

    The biggest challenge for me is to break out of the storytelling mold of one person speaking while everyone else merely listens, and get them into the story, the experience, for wonder, or ask the why question, or consider themselves as valuable to the story experience.

    Mostly I'm still telling fables and tall tales to kids, but partially because those audiences are accessible, but also because they are most open to learning, exploring, experimentation, and joy. But I do want to grow in my telling to adults, to different audiences, and in a way that allows them to explore the story space too, not just listen to me or my stories, but get involved and discover something new for themselves as well.

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  3. 1. What I love most about being a storyteller and/ or story listener?

    -- I don't think there's anything I *DON'T* love about being a storyteller!
    However- I think I particularly appreciate the supportive inclusiveness of the community. Whereas in the worlds, say, of ballet or singing, there can be a lot of competitiveness and criticism, with this art- as Jo Radner once pointed out- "there are not a whole lot of storytelling divas". I also like the fact that I am not as dependent on the decisions of a casting director: in any given audition, there are usually several well-qualified and talented potential candidates for every available role. With storytelling, I can pick up any tale that "calls" (paying proper heed to copyright restrictions) and run with it!
    -- I don't know that I exactly *love* being a listener- it isn't something that particularly comes naturally to me (I'm not bad at it, per se, but not *great*). But the world definitely needs more listeners; and it is a skill that is absolutely VITAL to the art of storytelling. So- I practice. And I'm learning.

    2. Do I consider myself a storyteller, performing artist, writer, passionate fan?

    -- I consider myself a storyteller and a creative artist/ performer. But I struggle to keep descriptors like "emerging", or (worse), "hobbyist" and "dabbler" from sneaking in. I find I have to keep reminding myself that just because I do not have regular professional gigs like Leeny Del Seamonds or Jay O'Callahan DOES NOT mean I'm not a "real" storyteller (whatever that actually means).
    -- Speaking of writers, by the way, can I just mention how annoying I find it to see so many WRITERS and AUTHORS lauded on the covers of their books as "a wonderful storyteller"? I know what they mean; character development and plot and use of language so on- but still....! Writing a novel is (as I see it) a different craft altogether; *storytelling* involves *performance*.

    3. My biggest storytelling challenges?

    -- Confidence, confidence, confidence.
    ...And, finding an audience. Opportunities to tell, and venues, are challenging to come by. At least, for me, so far.

    4. What kinds of stories am I telling, to what audiences?

    -- Mostly the chances I get to tell are during open mikes, swaps, and potlucks, as well as the occasional house party (I guess you could say that my audience is primarily, other storytellers). I tend to gravitate toward folktales- stories of the once-upon-a-time variety, more than personal or historical tales; and I also do a number of biblical/ scriptural stories. I have done works like Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Emperor and the Nightingale', and the Nativity story of Jesus' birth (You can find clips of my performances on Youtube under my screen name, StoryMing.)

    5. What would I like to be telling and to whom?

    -- I just want to be TELLING, more, and often. I'm not quite sure I've figured out yet who my audience is- or how to connect with them. When storytelling is mentioned, the draw I find seems to be mostly small children; and the stories I'm interested in telling would be a bit over their heads. The appropriate space for longer and more involved works seems few and far between.

    1. Just realizing that I answered, at one point, a different question than you probably were asking. "What do you love about being a STORY listener," ie. a rapt audience member privileged to hear a master Teller weaving their tale, is a different question than "What do you love about being a Listener[-in-general]"- the question I actually answered.


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