Margaret Read MacDonald notes that “storytelling is an oral folk art…distinct from conversational speech, because through body language, delivery, and attitude, the teller enters a performing mode. And yet, this performance is distinct too from traditional theatrical performance: it is more intimate, and a sense of comradery develops between teller and audience. Storytelling is an audience shaped art form.” (Twenty Tellable Tales pg. 181). Instead of proudly proclaiming the uniqueness of storytelling...it has often limped along, embrassed it was not more theatrical (as it that was a justification or permission for its existence) or ashamed it was so intimate or "folksy".

Anne Pellowski notes that there are a vast variety of storytelling styles based in culture, in story purpose, and in teller individualization. She lists: Native American Styles, African Folk Styles, African Bardic Styles, European Bardic Styles, European Folk Styles, Gaelic Styles, Asian Bardic and Theatrical Styles, Asian Folk Styles, Chinese Bamboo Clapper Style, North American Ethnic Styles, Religious Storytelling Style, Theatrical Styles, Library and Institutional Syles. (World of Storytelling, pg. -138-157). New styles of telling (Spoken Word, Story Slams, Digital Storytelling, etc.) are now emerging. It is the ability of storytellers to adapt and change that has kept this "ancient" art form alive.

In recent years, more and more touches of theatrics have been added to be simply "crowd pleasers" under the assumption that "today's child or audience" needs action and variety. Not necessarily....I have seen tough inner city children who could not sit still for a commercial- sit awed and entranced, hanging on every word the storyteller spoke and without the frenzy or bellicose elements. I have seen tattooed semi-felons drinking in the words of a softly spoken story with complex ideas and thoguhts. I have seen children from every race and status clustered around a storyteller in the center of a room, as she softly told her tales.....I was not the teller in any of these memories.....so I can be totally objective....

I have also seen a lot of meaningless shouting, jumping around, audience participation, and over the top acting in some storytellers that was fun to watch, but was a lot like eating spun sugar....it left you feeling a little empty......it was junk food that left nothing for the mind or the heart to think on and discover days later....

ALL STYLES OF ORAL STORYTELLING ARE EQUALLY VALID. Each of the styles listed by Pellowski can be useful and fun and achieve satisfaction in customers and audiences. None should be used to define storytelling into one particular style. Instead, celebrate the vast diversity of this art form called storytelling...and appreciate the artistry, individualism, and vision of all its varied members.

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