Friday, September 19, 2014

Become a Better Storyteller

This season, you'll see a huge emphasis on storytelling at the New Vic. We begin the season with PigPen Theatre Co., who creatively tell an original fable, The Old Man and The Old Moon. You'll also love The Snail and the Whale, an adaptation of a beloved children's book, staged as a story-within-a-story. The trend continues with Isango Ensemble's The Magic Flute, Complicite's Lionboy, A.R.T.'s The Light Princess, and Windmill Theatre's Pinocchio.

While every family has stories to share like these artists do, we know that not everyone at home has a stage like ours for telling their tales. Luckily, as social media becomes ever-more present in our lives, the avenues for telling your story are becoming more and more diverse. You can tweet, blog, or Instagram throughout your day, building your story through snippets you share. With that in mind, we've put together these ideas to help you try your hand at telling stories with your kids in new ways!

For Tweeters
What kind of stories can you tell in just 140 characters? Writers have long been exploring "flash fiction," or extremely short stories, to communicate deep emotion and plot. Perhaps the most famous flash fiction story goes, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." In just six, powerful words, the author (who some say was Ernest Hemingway) implies so many things to the reader. A more humorous example comes from science fiction writer, James Patrick Kelly: "We kissed. She melted. Mop please!" (Find more fun 6 word stories here.) With Twitter, modern day writers are getting even better at this art form. Try out writing your own Twitter flash fiction!

Try out #SixWordMemoirs for starters. The campaign, started by SMITH Magazine, encourages everyone to try and sum up their life in a six-word tweet. Tag it with the hashtag, and you could be featured on their website as a favorite of the week!

For Old-Fashioned Writers
For some, there's nothing like the thrill of putting a pen to paper. I, too, love keeping a journal of my thoughts and doodling along the way. Trouble is, writer's block is always around the corner, ready to strike!

Avoid getting stuck and use our School Tool Creativity Pages to get inspired by the themes in The Old Man and The Old Moon. Our worksheets are great for the classroom, but can double as a weekend exercise to try together, paired, perhaps, with our Family Activity.


For New Storytellers
Do you like the idea of writing stories, but aren't sure how to get started? If you start paying close attention, you'll see that stories are everywhere! (You don't have to write a book to be a great storyteller.) Begin by listening more. Historically, important stories always began in oral tradition, e.g. talking to other people is a tried-and-true first step.

To get a sense of how to structure a good story, ask your parent, guardian, babysitter, grandparent, teacher, or any other person you enjoy talking with, to tell you about a moment from their past. Here are some "story starters" if you need a little more help. Notice the details that they share, and pay attention to the beginning, middle, and end of their narrative.

Another exercise would be to watch a TV show, play, or movie that you love. Scripts begin as writing, but then are transformed into live action or animation. If you listen more closely, you'll begin to get a feel for the techniques that make a script interesting, compelling, honest or exciting! Take notes on those moments. Reading a favorite book will also help to illuminate these methods.

For Non-Writers
If you're tentative about calling yourself a writer, "writing" might sound challenging or boring. But you don't have to write or even narrate a story to share a story. Think, instead, about what you love to do, and then think about what you can communicate using that talent!

Do you love to skateboard? How can you move your body to communicate an emotion while you ride? Or, maybe you're a great photographer. Show the story of your day on Instagram without any captions. Maybe, like me, you love to cook. Try recreating a recipe that reminds you of a special moment in your life and share that meal with friends and family. We'll bet you'll be feeling like a more confident storyteller in no time!