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susanc's avatar

Have you ever listened to a professional storyteller tell stories? Why? What was that like?

Asked by susanc (16139points) September 17th, 2012
23 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

I love telling stories and it’s been suggested that I do it professionally. wtf?

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Bellatrix's avatar

I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘story teller’. I have been to see people like Clive James speak. Much of his presentation is story telling. I am sure there are other theatrical performances that would fall into this category too.

I certainly wouldn’t discount the likelihood that I could pay to listen to someone telling me stories. What sort of stories would you tell?

gailcalled's avatar

Susan; Why not try it out? Volunteer at a local school for a session and see whether you can capture the imagination of the students. You need to decide what grade your stories are suitable for.

Good story tellers have well-crafted material and the actor’s skill of diction. tone, timing, various accents and the love of some silence.

Trillian's avatar

I’ve listened to Garrison Keillor telling stories for years. Why? Because I enjoy it. It’s wonderful, captivating, evocative of other memories and feelings.

Jeruba's avatar

Yes, I have. One was, in fact, this storyteller, here shown setting the pace for waulking the wool by leading a rhythmic song. In addition to traditional songs and waulking technique, he is an accomplished teller of folktales. It was like hearing a story read aloud, but better, because he makes it sound conversational even while maintaining the structure and pace and supplying the right amount of detail. Listening to a storyteller is a very vivid, imagination-stimulating experience even without a cozy campfire and a backdrop of night sounds.

Another time I heard a storyteller at a folk festival tell traditional Southern tales. The personal presence of the storyteller, the special effects that they incorporate as part of their performance (without overdoing it!), and the immediacy of their responsiveness to the audience make it easy to be drawn into the drama and humor of the tale, almost as if you were hearing a first-hand account of a true story. Imagining how our ancestors heard narratives rendered in this way by a skilled practitioner, it is easy to see how people believed some things that now sound so fanciful written down in cold print.

susanc's avatar

Thanks, guys! Especially this from you, @Jeruba: ”...almost as if you were hearing a first-hand account of a true story.”
What kind I would tell: actual first-hand accounts of both true stories and lies – stuff that happened in my own life, also including stuff my grandparents and uncles and aunts and parents told, most of which was lies, but good ones: we all agreed on that.

Bellatrix's avatar

Why not try out your local library and see if you can organise a session? Please let us know how it goes.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve heard many professional story tellers, and seen some of the famous ones on TV or heard them on the radio. Remember Spaulding Gray?

I’ve taken story telling courses a few times in several different places. I’ve told in front of audiences two or three times. Once fo pay. It’s a lot of fun.

Why? Because stories are the highest form of communication, I think. A well-told story has so much more to it than reading the same story. I believe that humans evolved to be good at this form of communication, and of course, people love to hear good stories.

Kayak8's avatar

We Appalachians are great ones for story telling! One of my favorite sources of interesting stories is The Moth which is a place in NYC where one can go and listen to fabulous storytellers. They have a podcast and often broadcast stories on NPR. On the Moth website link above you can also link to “Tell a Story” which is their audition page. They have a link to storytelling tips there.

By the way, The Moth goes to a number of towns for story telling events, so you might hone your craft at one of these events.

Adagio's avatar

I love listening to Garrison Keillor also, and Canadian Stuart Maclean from the Vinyl Cafe, I found one of his stories in three parts on YouTube, Training the Cat part 1

Bellatrix's avatar

I was thinking storytelling would be a great activity for a coffee shop. Piece of cake, lovely cup of coffee and a story. What a nice way to spend a Sunday morning or a weekend afternoon or even an evening.

susanc's avatar

Wow wow, this is so great and helpful!!! Thank you all so much! and if there is more, let’s have it. Yay yay Fluther….

Kardamom's avatar

I got to see Hal Holbrook perform as Mark Twain a couple of years ago. In this clip, Mr. Holbrook is a young man (in his early 40s), in 1967 portraying a 70 something Mark Twain. I got to see him about 2 years ago, as an 80 something year old man (Mr. Holbrook) reprising his roll. It was magical. If I’d have been drinking milk, it would have come spitting out of my nose!

If you’ve got a great voice, and a knack for doing character voices you could do work in animated movies, and/or voice overs for movies and commercials. Or you could read books on CD.

There are probably lots of volunteer opportunities to read stories, such as at retirement homes and hospitals, especially children’s hospitals.

I would love to have someone come over to my house and read stories to me and stroke my back and kiss my forehead : )

Sunny2's avatar

You can hear stories read on National Public Radio in the U.S and on its equivalent in Canada.

harple's avatar

This lady was excellent to watch. A good storyteller keeps you captured in the palm of their hand, and you feel safe there.

thorninmud's avatar

My wife is involved in lining up programming for the public library where she works. A couple of times a year she goes to big, day-long presentations where talents of all kinds get a few minutes to strut their stuff in front of potential patrons. For what it’s worth, my wife says she always feels sorry for the storytellers in the bunch; although she really admires the skill necessary to tell a story well, her experience has been that there’s very little actual public appetite for it. The storytellers at these events always get e very tepid reception and, if they do get jobs in the library, draw few people.

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susanc's avatar

@thorninmud: I’ve seen some awful storytelling and maybe this is what your wife has seen too. What I mean by that is storytellers who try to kind of pump up the excitement with lots of “And what do you think happened THEN??!??” and lots of squeaky extra voices for the squirrels. I hope to avoid being like that until I die.

wundayatta's avatar

That’s children’s story telling. Adult story telling is a different thing altogether. Which are you thinking of doing?

fremen_warrior's avatar

A few times while surfing the net at the Ennis library I got to witness some dude tell a bunch of kindergarten kids about… Zebadiah Snotnose. He was really good too, it was a funny experience and I enjoyed it.


from the page:

Children’s Storytime
On Thursdays at 3.15 p.m.
Children aged between 3 and 6 years old are welcome to come along.

snowberry's avatar

I am a storyteller. There are as many types of storytellers as there are stories to tell. Storytelling used to be the only way to pass down history, genealogy, or any other information of value, but it largely died out with the invention of the printing press, and was reborn with the advances of theater, movies, and television.

But there is nothing as delicious as a good story properly told by someone who knows the craft. In my opinion, there is no better way to introduce someone to other cultures, music, beliefs, religion, or just plain fun! Let me know if you want to find a storyteller club in your area.

susanc's avatar

@snowberry, I do want to find a storyteller club in my area, which is Olympia, Washington. Thank you.

susanc's avatar

@wundayatta – of course, that’s what the problem is. Children’s storytelling is not what I love. I love stories among grownups. Not that I think kids should be excluded.
I like to/want to tell grownup stories. About transformation. Teaching tales. Tales about teaching. Got some ideas? Thanks!

wundayatta's avatar

@susanc Theater. Look for theater workshops in your area. Work up a story, practice it, and then tell. You can “workshop” it in all kinds of places. For example, I could tell stories about my adventures with infertility in infertility groups. My stories about mental illness in mentally ill groups. But also in regular theatrical venues.

I’ve told at story telling workshops and in small theaters, like in the basements of people’s houses. I think if I really wanted to do more telling, I’d get involved in a theatrical group.

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