“Well, the story reaches out and touches each listener in a different way. Like an omniscient, it knows each individual’s needs at any given time. It will either speak to a need in the listener or brush by with a caress, or a tap on the shoulder.
The story can act as a catalyst in commencing the process of solving an emotional problem, enlightenment, preserving a culture, helping another, bonding families or communities. The story can generate the healing power of laughter and assist in the education process. Sometimes the story is a trickster, it pretends to entertain just to get inside the psyche, and then it jumps up at the listener with a timely message.
It seems there is no end to the power of the story to seek out that searching part of an individual’s psyche and touch it.
But do I, as the storyteller, know what the story is giving to each listener? No, I am not extended that privilege. Only the story and the listener know this. But wait, sometimes the listener doesn’t even know. The story sneaks in and finds a place to rest and then awakens at the appropriate time in that person’s life. So the story IS the dominant partner.
What about me then, the storyteller, what contribution do I make in this marriage? Well I provide a vehicle for the story to come to life. But the same can be said for singing and other mediums of presenting a story. How am I, as an oral storyteller, different? Am I different? Please say Yes! Well… as an oral storyteller I do act as a personal communicator, I form a personal relationship with the listener. The listener knows me, or a part of me, through the story. Is that my contribution, to assist in preserving the personal relationship in society? Is the listener more (or less) receptive to the story because of the personal nature of the relationship between teller and listener? Is that what makes oral storytelling unique?
Perhaps not! A singer, musician or dancer also establishes this personal relationship.
But do they allow the story to develop and mature because of the interaction between the teller and the listener. In other words do they give the story the freedom to live. Do those other methods of presenting story allow the story to change, in the way a living organism changes, according to the circumstances and community it finds itself in?
Perhaps this is the element which allows oral storytellers to claim their medium as unique. Perhaps, as the storyteller, my role in this marriage is not so passive after all.”
In oral tradition, the story grows inside the teller the more the storyteller tells the story to others. Stories come to live in the presence of a listener or listeners, for without them, a story can never become a reality. Responsive listeners allow us, as storytellers, to see what our audience members are hearing. Storytelling is also interactive, therefore, by its nature, stories require the presence of listeners as well as a storyteller. A storyteller is not a teacher, a preacher, a counselor or a reporter. A storyteller is simply the teller of a tale. How the power of story touches or impacts its audience members is up to each individual’s unique interaction with the story and its storyline.
Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s journey begin!