Friday, 20 March 2015

Storytelling Discoveries - Part Two.

My last post explained some of the things I'd discovered about myself and my storytelling, after the first of a two-day storytelling training with Katrice Horsely.

Today was day two.

Most of the day focused on building our courage and abilities as storytellers, and gave us the opportunity to make resources to aid storytelling. We took the structure of a story we'd created on day one and used symbols on paper or physical materials to 'tell' the story.

Now I had a massive light bulb moment at this point.

I realised that when I 'tell' stories, they are always book or paper based. So I'm not actually telling - I'm reading or writing. Which made me then realise it's because I like the security of a physical object - book or pen and paper, With them close to hand, there's no chance of getting the story wrong, either because I continue working on it myself, or the words are already there courtesy of someone else.

When later in the session we were encouraged to first mumble, then speak our made-up stories, following that with hand movements and projection of voice (though our group didn't get to the projection stage because some of us were already out of our comfort zones), my mind went blank. I just couldn't 'see' the story. And if I can't 'see' it, I can't remember it - or tell it to an audience.

Which led onto lightbulb moment number two: I have to embed a story into my brain before I am comfortable performing it. Paper and pen is - for me - part and parcel of that embedding process. So is using props (like Handa's Surprise, which I told with a basket of fruit on my head...) So I have developed techniques to keep changing things until the story feels 'right'. Because of course if I just say something off the cuff, it might all go horribly wrong...

So today, I used symbols to 'write' my story. Here's what it looked like at the first pass:


This was pretty overwhelming - I still couldn't 'see' my story because there were no manageable chunks. A bit like when you try to remember phone numbers; listing the numbers in groups works better than just saying the whole thing without a break. So I constructed a 12-page book and split the story down further. Now I had 'scenes' on a page, and I could 'see' and remember them much more easily.

A twelve page book for a twelve step story...

Then the writer in me started to edit. I scribbled out various symbols, added new ones, reordered some...until the story made more sense and had a more consistent pattern to aid memorising it.

The fish moves and the gift given changes into a net...

We were given an opportunity to share our finished stories and/or resources with the rest of the group, but I didn't for two reasons. The first was that, having embedded the story firmly into my brain, I knew I would be able to perform it. And secondly, there were others present who had taken HUGE leaps forward in confidence on the storytelling front; I did not want them to lose their moment because I was simply indulging myself in a bit of theatre, which for me is the easy(er) bit of the entire process. Instead, I shared the steps I'd gone through to embed my story into my brain...

The final lightbulb was a very emotional moment, during the evaluation time. We were asked to pick a picture from a set of Dixit cards which appealed to us (Dixit is a storytelling game and the cards are full of beautiful, beautiful images.). When we had chosen a picture, we had to relate it to something we'd learnt from the training. This was the card I picked:


I tried to share what it meant to me with the group - couldn't explain it fully as I got tearful - so I will try to explain more fully here. (With the benefit that you can't see me cry if it makes me well up again!)

I had begun the training with the rather arrogant assumption that I was a wizard with words; I knew I could tell stories. They are in print, for heavens sake! But I have discovered that the act of storytelling is very different from that of writing stories. For a while, I'd felt as though things were a bit 'gloomy, gloomy, dark', and I'd never be able tell a story Katrice-style. However, after a lot of soul searching and personal challenge over the two days, I now feel like I have enough tools under my belt to be a different kind of storyteller to the one who walked into the training room; the teensiest spark has been lit and must now be nurtured in order to light me up as a real storyteller.

(Phew - all done, and not a tear in sight. Because I'm writing the words, not showing you the real me and the emotions I can't hide when I'm talking to you face-to-face.)

As Katrice said at the end of the session, this training was the start of a journey and only we can do the work to get ourselves where we want to be as storytellers. We have the skills inside us to be able to do it; we just have to grab our courage with both hands, believe it and be it.

So here's to Squidge trying something new and moving out of her comfort zone the next time she says she's going to tell a story...

No comments:

Post a Comment