Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Storytelling guilds

Last night we attended a local guild of storytellers and felt a positive rush at the end of a hectic day. It was worth the snarly traffic and extra effort to get there. Why, because it gave us a safe audience to trial our stories. The feedback was great too, and constructive. Storytelling guilds tend to meet regularly, prodding tellers to hone their craft, and providing a framework for newbies to learn in a safe environment. It's something I'd highly recommend if you want to improve your storytelling.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Most of the Bible in 90 minutes - Dennis Dewey

Last night we had the privilege to see and hear Dennis Dewey perform an array of Bible stories beginning, of course at 'The beginning... , going on to 'The Fall', 'Abraham, Sarah and their guests','The Exodus', 'The Daughters of Zelophehad', 'Jonah' (we all liked the fish - and the song of lament), 'Jesus' Birth', 'Jesus, the boy in the temple', 'Jesus Calms the Storm', 'Jairus' daughter', 'The parables of the persistent widow' and 'The two praying', 'Jesus death and resurrection', and a bit of 'John's revelation'.

Wow! It was a great performance! Dennis brought out the voices of the characters in the stories and let the emotion of the story speak. And we felt like we were part of the story. I couldn't imagine listening to a sermon (although I've endured my share of long sermons) for 90 minutes and wanting more. 90 minutes represents a lot of material, both for the storyteller and the audience, and yet we discussed different scenes on the way home and this morning as well. We're still talking over the stories with our colleagues and they are as vivid in our minds now as they were last night.

As a storyteller, it's great to be in the audience and see tellers like Dennis perform. It gives me more ideas of how I'll tell one of those stories in the future, not that I'll attempt to do as Dennis did, but his voice and performance gives me more to think about and to explore.

It was a great experience. Wish you could have been there.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Holy Writ as Oral Lit - Alan Dundes

I'm just finished reading Alan Dundes book, 'Holy Writ as Oral Lit', and found some gems to mull over. He states that 'Variation is the hallmark of folklore' (p.5) and that the variation within the Bible indicates that the Bible itself is folklore. Having asserted this, that the Bible is folklore is not saying that it is untrue, rather that its origins are oral rather than written, and the stories were passed on by eyewitnesses and audiences. He gives many examples of how the Bible accounts fluctuate (time, number, name, place, etc.) and states that he could've written much more on the subject. Robin Griffith-Jones in his book, 'The Four Witnesses' also discusses variation in the Gospels reflecting the point of views of their authors, each Gospel being written for a different purpose. Putting them together as a succinct account therefore does a disservice to the intent of the author. In the same way, storytellers have main points, or what Doug Lipman refers to as the Most Important Thing that they keep in mind when telling. In fact, the story is shaped by the Most Important Thing (Lipman, Improving your storytelling. 1999:87).

For me, the introduction and conclusion were the most interesting part of this book. Dundes states what folklore is, and that folklore doesn't stop being such once it is written. Generally people think of the terms of story, folklore and myth as things that are untrue. In the academic world, such is not the case.

Whatever your beliefs about the Bible might be, I think this book is a good read, especially if you also are interested in folklore.