Missouri – Mo-Tell (general gateway web site about storytelling in Missouri)
Texas – April 10-13, 2008 –Tejas in Denton, TX
June 21-22, Stillwater, Celtic Music & Heritage Festival
http://www.okcelticfest.com/ (Sureky they will include bards and seanchie's?)
Have a question about Oklahoma storytelling? Visit the state-wide organization's website. (see sidebar)
1. Find a story you enjoy.
2. Read it over enough times so that you are very familiar with it.
3. Think about it. What does it mean? Of what does it remind you ?
4. Write a short version out. Read it aloud.
5. Visualize the parts of the story: the beginning, the middle, and the end.
6. Practice telling the story: out loud, in a mirror, to family and friends.
Before long you too can be a storyteller whose most common phrase might be….”let me tell you a story.”
Have a question about Oklahoma storytelling? Contact the state storytelling organization, The Territory Tellers.
The humor of the human experience has always held a significant place of honor but many are discovering the varied world of the story. This ancient art form, once relegated to children’s programs in schools or libraries, is being rediscovered by adults as a marvelous way to communicate, to share their experiences in the workplace, and to assist in the process of physical and emotional healing.
· Kylia uses stories to excite her sixth grade science class. Using a “rest of the story” approach she lures students into discovering the adventure behind major discoveries.
· Pat has been opening her board meetings with stories that put the human face on the company. Problems are shared, behaviors corrected, not through accusations, but through stories that invite participation in problem solving.
· Darla addresses her church , not through sermons or lessons, but through stories that support and illustrate the values she wants to convey.
· Jane tells her patients stories as she cares for them in their homes or in the hospital. Believing that laughter is the best medicine in helping people deal with pain or struggle, she has a many funny, human stories that leave them with a smile and maybe a little courage to face their own problems.
· Maggie volunteers at a local library where she reads and tells stories to children as a surrogate grandmother. She knows that unless she does this, many children will never learn the stories, silly songs, or familiar folk tales that were such a joy in her own childhood.
So how does a person become a storyteller? If you have an interest in becoming a storyteller, it is easier than you might think. Many people enjoy sharing stories in a wide variety of settings. The often meet to swap stories, learn new skills, and spread the fun they have in telling a good tale.
After having acquired considerable experience telling a wide variety of stories to diverse audiences, the storyteller begins to think about telling for money. The development of a program then becomes a goal. Little information deals with this aspect, so the falling are some general factors to consider.
Brainstorm what stories you know well enough that someone might pay you to tell.
Identify the sources of these stories: how many are copyrighted and how many are traditional (copyright free tales)? Anything under copyright will require written permission, and possibly a fee, if it is used in a situation in which you will make money from it.
Look at those traditional tales ,or your original tales, in a new light. Can you give it a new “slant” or perspective? Change the viewpoint, setting, main characters, or mix up elements from several tales to create a uniquely original one.
Outline the order of the stories you plan to use. Is there a theme or motif? Are there linking ideas between the stories? Think of ways to visualize the theme. How will you transition between stories? How will you vary interest and attention? Are the stories appropriate to the audience in regards to content, topic, and time?
Practice, practice, practice!
Have several small, good quality, professional head shots taken in black and white.
Invest in a small run of quality business cards or brochures.
Investigate how much performers are making in your area (check with the public library and they can provide you will some general information about the performers they hire). Consider: Length of performance, amount of preparation required, number of performances involved, travel costs.
Be aware that most places will not have much money.
Be aware that there are only a limited number of performances venues and most people will have total ignorance of the scope of storytelling. They will think that storytelling can take place beside the battle of the bands or the dance competition in the next tent. That a single voice can be heard in the open air for an audience of 300 without use of a microphone and with a strong Oklahoma wind blowing! They will think that the specialized program for middle school students (on original oral stories from the Medieval Period) can be adapted (without consultation) to fit the elementary school next door. The series of small, manageable class or grade level groups you were scheduled to tell stories to has, on arriving at the school, become an auditorium of everyone, from the preschoolers to the custodian, and they are already early!
Colors can be used to describe objects (washed out, painfully bright). Look through books of painting to become familiar with how light, shadow, form, and color are used by artists to produce different painting styles. Note the colors since they can be handy for descriptions later.
Descriptions of the location (isolated, run down, crowded, cramped). Go to someplace that is similar to what you want to express. Write down things you see that spell out the feel you want to convey. It is all in the details sometimes. Take photos or sketch it out as a “tickler” for the future.
Attitude of the people (listless, bored, hungry, passionate, eager, anxious). What are the physical manifestations of these emotions? Try a little improvisation exercise and find a “tic” that might express someone who was anxious, or bored. I was having trouble writing a character one time. The unique elements I had first seen were sounding a bit like me now! So I looked at my character notes and shoved in an “Evanessence” CD, donned the Gothic clothes of the character and found her “voice” once more. Such may not be every one’s cup of tea, but find what works for you to keep the “flavor” of a character in place.
Music or a song can set the stage (I tell a civil war story where I preface it with a few bars of , what I hope is a slightly haunting, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again”). Peggy Lee had a hit song , “Is That All There Is?”, that is an expression of depression and apathy that is hard to beat.
If performing the story, utilize clothing or jewelry or props to help set the mood. I have found that that one of the best ways to tell ghost stories is not in the stereotypical “witch hat”, but in all black. Just as puppeteers use all black to “disappear” behind the puppets, the storyteller can recede allowing the story to be center stage.
What are some others ways that might work for you?
Write out the action described below in three moods.
“A man comes home after a day at work.”
Panic is fear at an inappropriate time, at least inappropriate to others, as the panic can be very real and uncomfortable to the person undergoing a panic attack. Persons with panic fears may be very debilitated by things that others have no difficulty in handling (going outside, into crowds, tiny spaces, dark spaces, etc.). If you hold your breath for as long as you can, there is a feeling of tightness, of a need to escape: this is very close to what someone in a classic panic attack experiences.
BASIC MYSTERY STRUCTURE
As with other fiction types mystery will begin in ordinary time where life is normal. It will proceed into the abnormal where challenges are faced, met, and overcome before the final resolution. Along the way may be fake leads, liars, and sub-plots to muddy the waters and leave the reader or listener guessing. Agatha Christie often used a format where a crime began the story, several suspects were introduced, another crime occurred, and in a final denouement scene the erstwhile detectives would gather everyone in a parlor and proceed to expound on just how marvelously brilliant they had been in uncovering the criminal(s). If it sounds familiar it should be as it one of the most overused vehicles found in writing. Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels), however, does a marvelous take on this in her book Naked Once More. Christie often “cheated” bringing into play in the denouement elements for which she had laid no previous groundwork (foreshadowing, red herring, or clue). Be aware this upsets many readers to the point of throwing books across the room and swearing never to read that particular writer ever again.
Not the kind of review most writers dream of receiving.
WHAT, WHO, WHY, WHEN, WHERE
The traditional and classic serving men Kipling wrote about, serve well in the creation of story, most especially the mystery. The structure of the simple mystery will contain all of these elements, with several in prominence.
WHO in most stories is the most important because good story structure requires characters who are realistic and likable (or at least interesting). Their natures, their values and character, will drive all subsequent action in a story.
However, in a mystery, WHAT, WHO, WHY with WHERE function as the team of horses pulling the story wagon. Mystery involves a WHAT (a crime, an unknown), the WHERE will help tell the story and convey a mysterious setting (setting will help paint the mood of the story), and the momentum of the story is to discover both the WHO and the WHY as the climax to the story.
Outline your mystery applying these elements:
WHAT has happened? A crime, a mysterious event, or some other action that takes the reader from the real, humdrum world and firmly places them into a realm outside the normal course of events. The signpost may not read the “Twilight Zone” but it should definitely indicate “CAUTION: SOMETHING UNUSUAL IS OCCURING”.
WHERE has it happened? The small town of Normal, USA must be shown to have a past or people in it that may have a negative side that they have hidden away from the truly normal members of the community.
Image taking a photo a place three different times during the course of a day.
In the morning the shadows are crisp, the colors rich, and the shadows are rich and thick but in recession.
At noon the light is everywhere and colors are more washed out , and the shadows harder to find. Things run together so that details are harder to define in such a view. There may be a glare that hides the true aspect of objects seen at this time.
Then look at the scene as the sun is setting and notice the way the shadows came seem to be softer, the colors rich and warm or bold and stark (think of a November evening with the black bare stalk of a tree silhouetted against a vibrant pink and orange sky) and how the shadows seem to dominate the landscape.
What happens when people are nervous, fearful, or anxious? Physical response symptoms of these conditions include:
Faster pulse rate as cardiovascular system picks up the pace
Increased flow of oxygen from into the brain to increase cognitive powers; senses and thinking are improved
Shallow breathing/ rapid breaths as body pulls oxygen into areas it might need to survive
Dry mouth (for same reasons as above )
Muscles tense in preparation of a fight or flight scenario
Voice may change as a result of the physical changes occurring (dry mouth, lack of oxygen)
Shaky knees (or teeth grind ) as the blood rush and muscles move into gear to escape by conserving energy
Pale skin or heightened color as a result of the re-direction of blood and oxygen in the body
Pupils dilate in order to see better
WHAT IS YOUR FEAR FACTOR?
Some of the most fear creating activities include:
Speaking before a group (remember those sweaty palms and dry mouth?)
Heights, depths ; Insects and bugs ; Financial problems ; Change ; Sickness and death ; Flying ; Loneliness
WHAT IS A MYSTERY?
Mysteries involve a question that has to be answered. Who did this? Why did they do it? Where did it go? All mysteries has some important fact that is kept from the audience or reader and revealed at the conclusion. Along the way clever hints, tricky false leads, or scary moments keep the story moving along. In mysteries, character mood plays a strong role.
One easy way to handle creating a mystery is to come up with the idea, map out or outline action of the story, know the conclusion (who did it and why) and then work backward. What actions would have been needed to have the character arrive at that point. Try this: take a mystery you like and start at the end, identify the clues revealed in the resolution, and then read back from there. Good stories will have an elegant connectivity to them that often becomes apparent in reading it end to front. You will see where the author left clues, tired to lead you astray, or foreshadowed events. As you read note how the setting influences the mood and how the mood then influences the story.
SETTING THE MOOD
Where a story is set often influences the mood of a story. Establishing the setting, and the mood, then become the first task of a storyteller dipping into the pool of this genre. Consider where you are taken with these opening phrases: “In a galaxy far, far away”, “Once upon a time when fairies danced ”, “In a dark, silent, forest”, “Alone in the mountain cabin”, “When the buffalo covered the hills and the meadowlark sang”. The mood might be one of threat, danger, adventure, sadness, fear, mystery, struggle, exuberance, anger, hopelessness. The setting can be real or used as a symbol or metaphor of deeper human activity.
There is a reason why many shorter mysteries are set in the dark or at night, in isolation, or in a conflict/struggle situation. Immediately a specific mood has been set with an economy of words. Writing mysteries allows one to draw this out a bit more, to begin in the realm of the normal and slowly move toward that inevitable moment when the ordinary is left behind. The moment when something comes out of left field, sideswiping the humdrum existence of the character, and spinning them into the unknown.
In this workshop or presentation*, learn the basics of finding the facts about family history and local history using library, government, and online resources. Learn what the architecture of homes in your area has to say about the past. Discover how to get started using local resources to track down local history and legends. Discover how innovative local partnerships can protect, preseve, and promote your community! “Save our stories”….so they can be communicated to new generations.
Alternate Presentations include "The House Down the Street" revealing partnerships highlighting ghost tours, and local legends; "Out of the Attic" focuses on tapping into the more personal family history aspects Begin recording local history through oral history interviews of older adults in the community. Discover clues in old photographs and unlock the stories hidden all around your family or community; "Historying" shares ways to turn boring history into stories that entertain.
Presenter Marilyn A. Hudson blends degrees in history and library-information with her experience as a storyteller to bring these presentations to vivid life.
--* A workshop is a more formal learning event while the presentation can be a class, address or lecture for a group.
Template for Pre-Talkers (0-2)
1. Select a content theme: (for example, Growing and Gardening)
2. Select a concept theme to think about when you write your learning statement: (the concept theme is a point about child development that you will emphasize for parents. For the purpose of this sample, I’ll select as my concept theme the idea of print motivation, and I will write a learning statement based upon this concept. The learning theme statement is what I will tell parents at some point during the course of the storytime.)
3. Write your learning statement: “From time to time you may hear me refer to the idea of print motivation in these storytime sessions. Print motivation refers to a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books and it is one of the most important things you can help your child to develop. Studies have shown that children who feel that books and reading are fun and enjoyable activities are better prepared for kindergarten and learning than children who do not have exposure to books in a fun, loving atmosphere. One of the things you can do to help your baby begin to develop print motivation is to hold them close and cuddle them when you share stories, and use a warm, gentle, enthusiastic voice when you read.”
4. Plan storytime as usual:
· For babies, it is very good to have repetition at both the beginning and end of the session. You may choose to always open with a song such as The More We Get Together and close with a song such as If You’re Happy and You Know It.
· Select two or three simple books with pictures to read. For my Growing and Gardening Theme I might select such titles as:
-Butterworth, Jasper’s Beanstalk
-Ehlert, Growing Vegetable Soup
-Kraus, The Carrot Seed
-Rockwell, How My Garden Grew
· For each book you read, do two songs or fingerplays: For my Growing and Gardening theme I might choose such well-known favorites as
-The Itsy Bitsy Spider
- -Open, Shut Them
- -Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
-Round and Round the Garden "
This is a great example of the kind of quality programming possible when working with children.