When I was in high school, I was a part of a competing debate, speech, and interpretive performance team. (You might be familiar with the word “Forensics” in this context, but as you might imagine I get some weird looks if I just leave it at, “I was on my high school Forensics team”.)
I never participated in the debate or public speaking events that were available. It wasn’t my thing. I was an actress – a performer – so, naturally I chose the interpretive and performance events.
One of these events was storytelling, which is exactly what it sounds like. I enjoyed it so much that I became interested in the art form – another unfortunate victim of modernity.
Yes, as writers we are storytellers in the strictest sense of the word. We tell stories. But the art form of storytelling is altogether different from what we do. Storytellers interpret the stories they are telling. They are performers who know their stories inside and out. It is from this tradition – dating back to our most primitive ancestors and earliest civilizations – that acting, dance, and music developed. And those that do it well are as captivating as any of your favorite performers.
But, with the invention of the printing press, the advances in technologies that made the manufacture and distribution of books more widespread, and the rise in literacy rates across the globe, the art of storytelling has become something of an antiquated novelty.
Luckily, Storytelling festivals and events are fairly common around the country. One of the best known occurs annually in TN not too far from where I grew up.
Here are some websites to visit for information if you are interested in learning more, or just want a fun way to spend some time with family and friends!
National Storytelling Network – This is an organization that “brings together and supports individuals that use the power of story in all its forms”.
DMOZ: Arts – this directs you to a site which claims it is “the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web”. Regardless of the truth of that claim, this list covers a lot of area.
International Storytelling Center – This is a nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to inspiring and empowering people across the world to accomplish goals and make a difference by discovering, capturing, and sharing their stories.
From these sites you should be able to find any regional storytelling event or festival near you. I highly recommend checking one out!