What Is a Story? And Why Do We Tell Stories?
To be human is to connect with one another, and one of the ways we do this is through the use of visual, written, and oral storytelling. We teach, explain, and share not just through words and images, but through performance. We are all born storytellers, and we all have many stories to tell. We tell people who we are, what our businesses do, and what has happened to us; everyone tells stories in everyday life. Yet storytelling is a uniquely human endeavor — we do it to connect with each other, to effect change, to teach, and to transmit our culture over time and pass along the wisdom from previous generations.
Different story frames exist — from the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell to Nancy Duarte’s book Resonate, which depicts the emotional pull between the world as it exists and the world that could be — there are common structures that are useful to understand how to create and frame a great story. JJ Abrams talks about the elements of “wonder and mystery,” and gives a delightful overview of ‘The Mystery Box,” as it drives stories forward. Another great talk is Andrew Stanton’s work in film making and his explanations for why Finding Nemo and WALL-E are such powerful movies.
Body, Language, and Sound
How does your body work in the art of story and performance? Often, we must become the story tellers, using our body, language, breath, posture, rhythm, and sounds to play the performance out in space for other people. Because of this, it’s important to understand how each of these components work. Some of the exercises we looked at were the use of repetition in language; using no words but still communicating a story with sounds; and striking a pose with our bodies based on particular words. Think about it: what does a “yes” body posture look like? How about “no” or “scared”? Many emotions can be communicated simply through the body, without language or sound.
Layering in language — tonality, repetition, cadence, rhythm, breath — is another art in and of itself; we touched on the qualities of sound and wordless performances, but the art of performance and mastery is a skill to be built over time. For resources, check out this list.
Everyone sees the world differently, and miscommunications often occur even when two people read the same words, hear the same thing, or listen to the same track. People’s minds will visualize different colors, textures, shapes, scales, ideas, and even visual perspectives differently. Visualizations can be used both to develop your power of imagery and visualization and in understanding how people see things differently from you.
Everyone is a born storyteller. We all have things to say and share, and we all want to connect with others. From the first time we ever had a dream, to the time when we made up an excuse to get out of not finishing something as a five-year-old, we became storytellers, weaving together fact and fiction into a way of understanding the world.
What’s YOUR Story?
We closed the workshop with a visualization exercise that I love that asks you to picture yourself on the cover of a magazine. What story do you want to be known for? Who’s reading your story? Who is telling it? And what magazine is it?
I’m working on a research project that looks at what questions you can ask other people that isn’t “What Do You Do?” I think the question is outdated, but not necessarily irrelevant. Still, we need to find better ways to connect with others and learn more about them. If you have a favorite question to ask someone, I’d love to know what works for you. How do you connect quickly with another person? What questions do you ask? Of course, I’m a fan of this one:
Tell me your story.
Photos by Cloe Shasha.
The Bold Academy :: Founded in 2012 :: Website Designed by @Cloe_Shasha