Last night Brian and I went to a "Tellebration" : an evening of Storytelling and it was really wonderful.
I had read about it in the newspaper and found out that it was at the Ohio Historical Center, 90 minutes long and cost $5. Sounded like a perfect way to spend a Saturday night -( especially after the Buckeyes lost!)
Not knowing what to expect, I was surprised to find how small the gathered group was - less than 50 people in a space that could hold 4 times the number. It was - then - intimate and kind of quirky. The evening began and had an intermission by "The Patchwork Parlor Band" a couple about my age who played guitars and sang a variety of music - the Beatles, standards and some country. Not surprisingly I knew most of their songs and found myself singing along. At the intermission, they were joined by a friend (who looked like he was in his 70's) who played "the bones" and did a sort of percussive dance on a box to rocky top. Truly, you had to be there. It was unique.
We heard 6 story tellers plus a group of students who were members of the Village Watato Storytellers. They did some original writings and spoken word.
Storytelling is truly an art and these people were very creative and skilled in the use of their words, their voices, their gestures and their bodies. I felt like we went around the world and through the years as we heard stories about grandchildren, hairy monsters, boys frightened in the night and the disembodied voices. One woman spoke with an Irish accent, another sang throughout her story and another told a "spooky Affrilachian Tale."
It all made me think about how rarely we sit and tell and listen to stories. Much of communication now is texting and not talking. And the talking that we do is so often practical and far from poetic. We give information but don't really spend time telling the stories of our lives or sharing the stories of others.
Good storytelling means that we need to reflect enough on our lives and our experiences to recognize the stories that we have to tell. Good storytelling needs people who are willing to listen for more than just the "point" but to enjoy the ride of the wonderfully descriptive language.
And I will tell you this - like an evening of good conversation - good storytelling is better than time in front of any screen as we continue to explore what it means to be alive.