Storytelling Process: Why I Tell


Storytelling is not what I do for a living – it is how I do all that I do while I am living.
Donald Davis

Tonight, Friday June 10th, I have a storytelling gig at The Bronx Museum.  I’ll be doing something I rarely do: tell a personal story. The request for this series is to have professional storytellers from The Bronx celebrate their connection to that New York City borough (which, btw, is the only one known as THE anything).  I grew up around the corner from Yankee Stadium (the original one, the real one, in my mind), just off 161st street. That means a lot to me, and will to people who grew up in that neighborhood.

I’m not normally a storyteller who does personal stories live. Yes, I’m happy to share conversational tales, personal tidbits, on my blogs and in actually talking, but on stage? Not my forte. Yes, The Moth is a huge hit, and other programs like that have caught the attention of a growing audience. I was discussing this with a storyteller friend, Dangerous Linda 🙂 and she and I differ in this. To her “we are exactly opposite in this way. i find i can never (tell) something more amazing than real life.” We are both storytellers and writers. I prefer fiction, she, personal tales.

I have been asked, often, how long have I been a storyteller.  I think we all are, we just don’t actualize it. We tell conversational stories all the time. As parents, we read to our kids (or should). That is my memory: my father, nightly, would read me stories from Hans Christian Anderson or collected tales from The Brothers Grimm. He sang songs to me, in German and other languages, and he encouraged me to come up with my own. Before he died, he did tell me he was proud of me for my company, The Brothers GriNN (improvisational storytelling). That was golden.

Why I Am A Storyteller

I feel that storytelling is the purist form of entertainment, next to dance and music. The oral traditions of passing on tales moved around the world as our ancestors traveled. These tales were shared, altered to fit the social system they visited (there are over 270 versions of Cinderella alone), and they were a gift to the future. The ones that are still told, and are being crafted now for future generations. Books are storytelling, of course, comic books too, and songs, and dance. Narratives can be found in many things. This is a narrative world we inhabit, no matter what the medium or genre.

Personal storytelling, as I said, is not what excites me, although I wrote my storytelling play based all on true tales. I prefer traditional folk and fairy tales, stories from around the world. I create and write my own.

I am a Performance Storyteller, which means I invoke my acting dramatic side into my telling. This, to me, engages the audience. I am bored with someone just reading from a book, with little to no interaction. I can read a book. I want to be thrilled by the voice, hear the cadence of language, the drawing in of a good teller. Language, to me, is musical.

The Fools of Chelm: Two Short Tales

This video below: I just found it. He’s silly…I like that. I want an outfit just like his, but in black. 🙂

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