“So has your Story Bones been tickled?” I asked to a roomful of excited parents and teachers.
“Yes…yes..yessss!!” yelled back my audience.
“So where did you find it hiding in your body?” I fired the next one quickly.
There was an awkward pause. People smiled back, as if telling me that it is hidden in a secret corner of their soul, one they now know exists but cannot put their fingers to!
I looked around expectantly. Until a teacher rightfully said, “It keeps moving about!”
Everywhere I have taken my storytelling workshop I have called it “Tickle Your Story Bones”. Everywhere people have expected me to teach them to tell stories. In truth, there is nothing that I can teach. Storytelling cannot be taught. It has to be discovered. It has to be felt. Stories have to inspire and move you. Stories have to motivate you enough to take on the remarkable onus of sharing it with others.
Everyone is a storyteller, but the gift of oral rendition sprouts from a deep seated bone that makes the teller truly exceptional. One can teach techniques, and give away tips and tricks, but all of it would be a rehearsed effort if the teller is not moved by the power of stories. It would be futile if the teller does not invest in finding more stories to tell. It would be hopeless if the teller does not feel the emotions in the stories. It would all be a waste if the teller is not compelled to tell it!
To me, and why just me, to everyone who has ever heard a good story, it is the display of honest emotions that make a story truly remarkable. I call it Storytelling & The Art of Nakedness! How does it work? The crest and troughs of emotions, displayed through a range of expressions, accompanied by body movements and voice; these are all that it takes for a teller to build an invisible bridge with his / her audience. The bridge is so strong that the teller can then walk across it and nudge the viewer to feel the same emotions. How the viewer chooses to display the emotions is completely a personal experience. When a character cries in my story, and I cry with the character, my audience takes away different scenarios. Someone is reminded of their own relationships, their own stories or that of others. Some cry with me, some want to be hug others who cry, some take away the strength a character is showing whereas some look at the helplessness of another. What the viewer ‘chooses’ to take away, or even express at the end of the story is pure magic. Sometimes it is experiential, at others it is cathartic. It may be inspiring, compelling, motivating, comforting, nostalgic, funny…and several other adjectives that I struggle to write here. However, one thing is certain…that the ability of a storyteller to truly make his/her audience feel and then express honestly is a gift. And not just a gift…it is a power!
And like Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility,” a storyteller who can affect audiences like that must not sit still. The story bone has to be continuous tickled. The proverbial itch on the foot must make the teller a story gatherer, one who is on a constant quest to discover more stories. One who sets off on a journey to unravel stories and fill his story bag with stories. A storyteller who has discovered her story bone must be growing with every story that she tells! A storyteller is never perfect, each one is perfecting the craft with every telling. It’s a journey of a lifetime.
Tickle Your Story Bones has been a revelation of sorts with adults. Teachers have discovered that they have been doing it all wrong! They have been ‘narrating’ stories without realizing why students have not been affected. Parents have been reading books without knowing what interests their children. Children have been telling stories with no one to listen to them! Of all the audiences I tell stories to, it is the youngest that is most exciting. Children are natural storytellers. Try conducting an interactive story session asking the children to imagine the classic ‘What happens next?’. When it comes to storytelling, there is very little that holds back children’s imaginations. But when it comes to emotions, it is a tricky thing!
The reason why Tickle Your Story Bones works with all the audiences is because it helps its participants to identify their own emotions. It helps to distill, compare and express appropriately. Most importantly, it helps the individual to respect one’s own emotions, to not be shamed by what he/ she feels, to take ownership of feelings and learn how to control them.
In terms of performance, the workshop has a very precise and systemic approach to ‘Story Choreography’, the finer nuances that make an oral story truly visual. There are concrete elements of theatre and speech which build on confidence, stage presence, presentation and communication. There are ‘Story Construct’ exercises that help participants identify and create stories with building blocks. ‘Story Maps’ and ‘Storyboards’ help participants remember a story visually without having to learn them up.
Further on, exercises and modules like ‘Story Props’ and ‘Story Bag’ help participants create or gather the necessary tools and ingredients for effective presentation. Most significantly, it tickles the bone of the teller helping him/her identify the stories they want to put their story bag.
Tickle Your Story Bones is an experiential workshop that seeks to find the dancer, singer, actor, player and painter in you. If you are an adult, it seeks to find the child lost in you. If you are a child it will help you discover expressions, emotions and life through stories. And irrespective of who you are, it sets to change the view you see stories and how they make you feel. Because unless stories make you feel you will never be an effective storyteller.
Who is it for? – Storytelling is for all isn’t it? Tickle Your Story Bones has different versions for children, teachers, parents and adults including professionals! Do I teach a Corporate Manager to design props? Of course I don’t, but I do help him identify the mediums that will help him convey a story visually! Didn’t I say emotions are universal and expressions diverse?
Click the following links hear reviews of Tickle Your Story Bones – Teachers’ Workshop
Want to learn Storytelling this Summer? We have a Story Craft workshop for Children!
Come, let’s find that Story Bone and let’s discover expressions, emotions and life through stories!