Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques
Welcome to the workshops.
We shall be chopping stories up. Following on from the ‘knowing’ comic strip, (displayed on the wall), we can look at the idea of gradually working away from scripts to a far more free-flow approach where important elements come to the fore.
There, that is all you need to know, goodbye – oh no I’ve already done that gag.
S.T.O.R.Y. shall be displayed for discussion, and possibly for a rewrite.
Story is to stare at
Traditional told anew
Oral always, abandon all scripts
Reinvent eventually through practicing live
You should be the centre of attention yet forgotten altogether
There that is all you need to know – Oh gosh this theme has become really repetitive.
Let us look at story breakdown.
Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques Subsection #8b The Breakdowns
(Scroll down to see full details of many.)
Here are some tales…
A Survival Tale – Bamboo Girl – Brynhildr Sleeps – Cinderella – Creation – Hansel and Gretel – Old Eater – Hare and the Tortoise – Loki’s Daughter – One Thousand and One Nights – Rocky and Bullwinkle Meet the Mermaid (based on the talking fish) – Sigurdr Falls in Love – Statue Boy – The Bones of the Mother – The Selfish Giant – The Sumerian Tale of a Giant – Viking Sea Travel Issues.
They are below you.
Go scroll down and be back, but rest assured you have just played the breakdown game.
You are back.
You may wish to work out the stories from the snippets as an interlude.
There comes a point where you don’t need this mini script but you may still have places where you falter so you need notes as reminders of these points you find tricky.
Then eventually you need no notes.
Then you don’t need to decide which story to tell until you stand up.
You may even start to weave between tales as you go.
A prompt is always good ie Rebecca’s Babe (it is a title really) – you are building a set list and you may add essentials as a footnote ie 1411 St Marys.
Rebecca’s Babe (1411 St Marys) – Go tell.
We are talking storytelling not Snorri repetition – thanks to all you folklore documenters in one big lump, (especially the female Irish slaves employed as scribes in Iceland), thank you all of you, (often vicars for some reason), fairies and trolls only exist because of you.
Creating the tale from its pieces is still traditional – no, it is even more traditional.
We are the tellers.
(BTW We say full stop in the UK where in the US you say period, period might fit better here.)
We need to get it into our heads that there are elements which have to be fitted in. That is all really.
And then practice.
Let us take those vital elements of those particular stories and juggle.
Let us deal out a share and seek to create a story of them.
Let us add in our own stories as breakdown (scribbling during a coffee break).
These can be from a wild selection of areas and types.
Think of stories you are familiar with.
Consider the idea of key points and make a list.
Let us add them to the pile.
We are creating the now.
From the then.
So, once they are shuffled and dealt and we all have a few in our hands it is time to create story.
Move them about while you think, (ask to swap one if you are stuck), work out an idea for a tale. Then tell your tale to a colleague.
Once practiced it is time to share, if we feel really confident the listener tells the tale they have just heard on behalf of the creator.
Tell me about children. Anything which come sot mind; habits, quirks, feelings, characteristics, choices: anything.
Now pick a few of these and apply them to adult Vikings.
You have a story.
IE Jealousy is very different thing if it is regards a powerful woman with a spearhead hidden in her cloak
Holding hands can conjure up all sorts of possibilities.
Children what are they like!
Be long and slow in your considerations of what your topic needs and fluid and witty in your storytelling
I also shall create a set of prompt cards, similar to the Ales and Tales ones found through the links blog but specific to our topic.
I carry a treasure chest of tiny things to use as prompts always, these make a fun change.
We can also use the snippets to create a group story.
Pull one at random – start a story – then let someone else go along with it – this is for fun – but also releases the imagination.
Often when I do a storytelling show I have different groups attending. It is good to get them together afterwards and have one group tell the other one of my stories.
This works even if you have already heard it because it comes out quite different.
Scripting. OK you might have written a story, or written something down, or written a script I add. I admit I have. Take out the elements and use these to tell. Allow it to break away from its rigidity.
We all have faults and failings. I say play to your failings. I know it is more usual to say to play to your strengths and yes that works too. We have our failings with us and it is them which need playing to. To be aware of where we might go wrong and think of strategies to deflect or prevent. This is mainly to get rid of the anxiety which can come with concern about faults. My big failing is names, I struggle to remember names and or numbers; let’s be honest, I am rubbish at facts. I found I relaxed into telling a lot more once I had realised. Once I had given myself permission. If I could say ‘his son’ – ‘her lover’ and get around the forgetting of a name it helped me relax. It helped me relax to the degree that I probably remembered the name, because the pressure was off.
I allow myself not to be perfect every time.
It was the start of my realising each telling is unique.
Areas which were issues when I first started; all in one tone, not using voices for characters, digressing and losing track as a result.
Describing characters, places or situations without using their name is an interesting exercise. I shall supply a list of suggestions and ask participants to add to the list. Not as a trick or puzzle but with obvious ways of describing so we know who or what it is. This helps with descriptiveness.
Experiments with use of space and ways of moving follow on nicely here.
Dream you have done it – come back tomorrow.
I have always found that performance example inspires and encourages people so will refer people to my storytelling show and look for reaction and discussion. Help us find out why we are here and to self help us into improving.
“I am that Viking who…” (fill in the gap)– “and I…” – This is a good one to throw in to a story share. So people can pick up on it when they are ready.
What is a skald? – imagine you are a chieftain – what do you want from me? We piece together an image and then seek to fulfil it.
You are not a strong brave important warrior or leader, you are other than this, imagine yourself as a less dynamic character, perhaps limited in some way and then consider how you would fit in. Tell us of life on that farm.
We are Yggdrasil and all is gathered within our growth. Then each person personifies a place, character, situation, creature etc; I am wolf. Then repeat the chorus piece and so on. A good one to practice for a group performance.
Creating this blog allows the reader to consider which elements would be most helpful to them so we can shape the workshops between us to best suit our needs.
Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques Subsection #8b The Breakdowns
Warning these story breakdowns are spoilers!
A deity can tire of endless perfection – desire to be human – wear a swanskin and fly to Midgard – Strip and swim naked and mortal – A man recognised her, took her skin as blackmail – Make my side win, she did – As she set off to fly home Odin cursed her – ‘Sleep a loveless sleep for ever’.
A huge downpour – God asked Noah to build an Ark – Take two of everything – Noah called and they all came – the unicorn were all playing in the puddles – they missed the call.
Big storm – Fishing boats turns upside down – all drown – except the chef he is clinging to the upside down toilet – dark with a bit of air, fish start to bite – he swims down to the ceiling and pulls out some of its boards – he floats on the boards for five days in the dark upside down galley – there is a knock on the hull.
Eater down by Tongue River, of the Cheyenne – Caught one of his horses – as he rode away, one was missing, Grey Face! – He rode all day looking – Upon his return his wife hears his tale and says you are riding Grey Face.
Jack’s mother says nothing will grow, us and the cow will starve – Go to market and sell the cow – He comes back with five beans she throws them out in disgust – Jack climbs the beanstalk that grows – in the giant’s castle are a hen that lays gold eggs and a harp which plays – he steals them – then he chops down the beanstalk as the giant is coming.
Loki falls for Angraboda and sees her without his wife knowing – They have three monster children , one is Hel – The gods come to dispose of them – Hel is half beautiful and half rotten – they throw her down the long drop of the dead – She rules the underworld – Her dead servants are building a ship so she can bring an army to Ragnarok.
New step mother is cruel – They overhear plans to dump them in the forest – Sneaking out they collect stones to later mark their way back with – Upon return they again hear plans but the door is locked so they keep the bread from supper – Birds eat the bread crumb trail – They are lured into a gingerbread cottage – She must work to fatten up her brother – She pushes the witch into the oven – Step mother is also dead or gone when they return so all is happy.
Poor fisherman catches mermaid – agrees to release – wife cross makes him go back – grant me a wish of a palace – she keeps making him go back for more – ‘queen’ then, eventually, ‘Goddess?’ – Mermaid asks what he wants and he just wants to be happy like before – “Come in I am so proud of how neat I have got the hovel.”
Poor old bamboo cutter finds golden babe – They bring her up, finding gold to help – to city – many men propose – she falls for the young emperor – discs of warriors and a king appear in the sky – she has learnt her lesson and must return – her memory is wiped – as it fades she throws an eternal life potion so he can find her – he cannot bear forever without her – servant throws it for him – it hits Mount Fuji and burns
Shahryār is enraged when his wife goes with another – Every day he marries a new virgin and executes her the next morning – until there is only the vizier’s daughter left – Scheherazade tells a tale without and end (Tell half a tale) -The king postpones her execution – She finishes the tale and starts a new one each night (You do the same).
The Happy Prince was a gold-leaved statue with sapphires for eyes and a ruby as a sword hilt – A swallows love for a reed make shim miss migration time so he befriends the statue – The once happy prince can see the city now he is dead and feels sorrow – A poor woman cannot buy her poorly son oranges – Statue bids bird to take his ruby – More sad cases until all the gold leaf has gone – Then one of his eyes and then the other – Perhaps when the swallow dies they will be reunited in the meadows of heaven.
There was nothing – in the nothing was ice and fire – fire melts ice old muck comes out – Muck makes Imir – A giant cow floats by dripping milk – Imir drinks – the cow is hungry so licks salt from the ice – Buri forms from the ice – Imir’s angry sweat forms into more giants – the earth’s first beings were giants (and a cow).
We fear as we travel the seas – Ask Njord for help – Ran under the sea sends her nine daughter – They are the waves – Ran throws her net to catch drowning sailors – they will entertain her – Call to Njord, Call to Njord.
Young warrior has killed a dragon – he has gold and a ring (the ring is cursed) – ahead a mountain-top tower shrouded in flames – He rides fast and his horse leaps – A naked woman sleeps – He dismounts and kisses her – It is love – He puts the cursed ring upon her finger.
Zeus gets angry with humans, yet again – big flood – Deucalion builds a big floating box for him and his wife Pyrrha – they land on Parnassus – floods go – Oracle Themis says throw the bones of the mother behind you – so they throw stones over their heads – the stones turn to people.
Quote from John Thor Ewing
“It has been a while since I’ve done a “storytelling” show as such, although I still use stories in performances. My own style was always to cut through to “the story itself” as quickly as possible and, although of course I always adapted both wittingly and unwittingly, I always felt that I was telling it “straight”. So, I don’t think I could ever do what you do, which seems to deconstruct the idea of storytelling, as if Chaucer or Bocaccio had decided to concentrate on the storytellers rather than the stories – in my mind, it shouldn’t work and, although I know that you can make it persuasive, thought-provoking and entertaining, I have no idea how you do it. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I really don’t feel I have anything valid to say about this, but I have confidence in your abilities.”