Tapestry of Storytellers' Tips and Tales By
Chris King, Marilyn Kinsella, Linda Spitzer, Patti Christensen, Steve
Otto, Granny Sue and Yvonne Healy
two months for several years I had the delightful opportunity to share
tips from my storytelling friends in the Tips Column in the National
Storytelling Network's (NSN)Storytelling Magazine. Realizing
that not everyone who visits this website is a member of NSN - although
I highly recommend you join - I have decided to periodically start sharing
some of these wonderful tips on this site. Because of space limitations
in the magazine, I also have many tips that have been sent to me, but
not used. So, this will solve both situations and it will become a win-win-win
project for all of us. I hope you enjoy them, and let me know if you like
the change of pace and hearing from a tapestry of tellers. Read on!
Opens Marilyn Kinsella to the Artist's Way
After my first (NAPPS) workshop in 1981 with none other than Jackie Torrence
in Jonesborough, TN, I got on bus to go back to Illinois. I sat next to
a little old lady on an otherwise empty bus. When she asked me what I
was doing in Jonesborough, I talked non-stop about the weekend even being
so bold as to tell her the stories I'd heard. When I finished, she said
I should look at my life as an artist's palate. Storytelling was just
one color on my palate, but soon I would discover other colors. When I
put the storytelling with the other colors, my true artist would come
through. It wasn't long after that encounter that I started to write plays,
stories, poetry and puppet plays. I directed and acted in community theatre.
I drew murals, storyboards and original flannel boards. I became a workshop
leader and festival organizer. And it always goes back to my storytelling.
Storytelling not only opened me up to the way of story, it opened me up
to the Artist's Way. Marilyn Kinsella email@example.com http://communities.msn.com/TaleypoTales
Great Marketing Ideas from Linda Spitzer
A few weeks ago I attended a Gemini concert given at the Sunday Afternoon
Concerts for Children (music). I sat there for 30 minutes waiting from
the time the doors opened until the beginning of the show as did many
hundreds of people. The concert starts at 3 p.m. but the doors open after
the rehearsal at 2:30 p.m.. I wished I could just jump up on stage and
start entertaining the audience sitting there. I did something about it.
I got the website, e-mailed and offered my services (but I didn't say
at what cost). They called me back and in talking I told them what I do
and that they needed entertainment like I do for that 20 minutes. She
said the magician that she had walking through the audience who can entertain
about three people at a time was sick and yes I could come.
I asked for
my fee, but for 20 minutes they came to half of that. Since it is five
minutes from my house, has a prestigious audience, is given at a beautiful
concert hall at the University of Miami, I accepted. I knew I just wanted
to do audience participation stories. We never talked during the week.
She never called to confirm and I got a little worried that she forgot
I was going to be on the program. I arrived all dressed and made up to
look my best, in storytellers clothes (the same as I would wear to a semi-dressy
event). She greeted me like she expected me - she'd never met me before,
pulled out a program and said, "You're even listed in the program."
Now I had arranged this only a week before. Was I lucky or what?
the rehearsal, went out on stage with my story bag before the audience
came in. I have signs made with my name, phone and website that I set
on little easels (I recommend this to anyone doing shows at anytime. They
copy your information down and your name is in front of them the entire
performance). They started filling up the seats and I walked out, introduced
myself, had all my paraphernalia sitting on top of a beautiful big grand
piano, had a lavaliere mike the quality I wished I owned and told them
how it was my idea to come since I sat in their last audience a few weeks
ago. They loved everything I chose to do, lots of applause, I was very
comfortable up there - at last a concert stage. I stayed for the concert
because how else was I going to be able to mix with the people to hand
out business cards.
were giving out cookies and juice I mingled, handed out cards. As I left,
some older women asked for my card, said they didn't come with children
that they were friends of the producer and that I was so good I ought
to tell to adults. I assured them I have many adult audiences all the
time. I came home on such a high. Linda Spitzer
Just for the Tell of it firstname.lastname@example.org http://go.ourworld.nu/bugdoc/linda.htm
What If You Have to Turn Down a Gig? Patti Christensen Has the Answer
If you have to turn down a storytelling job either because you are not
available or it's not the kind of story work that you do, please give
the caller the names of several other tellers. The generosity of this
will be appreciated by the person looking for a storyteller, and the other
This is really a case of "what goes around, comes around." Rather
than getting into scarcity thinking which says if they know about other
storytellers, there is less work for me, the act of giving out other teller's
names affirms that there is enough work for all of us. Patti Christensen
San Diego CA email@example.com http://www.pattistory.com
Look 'em in the Eye! Steve Otto Knows How to Establish a Bond
Our kids do not get looked in the eye any more! And that is one of the
best ways to make sure that your story is being shared with your audience.
The object of telling stories is to SHARE the story and you have to establish
eye contact to do that. I have been known to get down on my knees to look
up and get eye contact with a "shoe looker" and once that bond
is established, you find that you have "hooked" another convert
to oral communication. Steve Otto firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.storynet.org/tellers/SteveOtto.htm
Granny Sue Stresses the Importance of Listening
Storytellers are listeners, and not just to voices and stories. We are
often looked at as the one to tell the stories, but we must first hear
those stories from some source, whether it be another person, a book,
our own inner voice, or the physical world around us. We need to be listening
aware to hear the stories being gifted to us daily. There are stories
told with a glance, in a song, in children playing a game. Stories are
in the wind in the trees, birds calling, water trickling over rocks, the
soft swish of snow falling, towhees scratching in dry leaves, doors closing,
windows opening, swing sets creaking, footsteps, the hum of air conditioners
or crackle of fire, car horns, train whistles, elevators - all these have
stories for the teller willing to listen. Granny Sue
Stories from the Mountains and Beyond email@example.com http://www.storynet.org/tellers/GrannySue.htm
Yvonne Healy Shares Her Ideas on Humor
time's the charm: introduce the bit, repeat the bit, twist the bit.
Make mistakes. Comedian Martin Short claims 30% or more of his material
is horrendous - a sacrifice in the search for humor.
gifts are found along new paths.
your face before performance. Like vocal warm-ups, stretching makes
it more flexible and expressive.
different way to say the same old thing. Jack Benny was praised as one
"who says things funny, as opposed to a comic, who says funny things."
old comedy films & TV variety shows. Trained in vaudeville, these
comics adapted classic material, tailoring it to their speech rhythms
& personas, and considered it an honor to be emulated but not copied.
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Seeger's Storytelling Book
You can almost hear the banjo plucking away in the background
as veteran singer-songwriter Pete Seeger tells his folksy
tales and shares his useful tips on storytelling.