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Storytelling

What is storytelling? Storytelling is an experience the audience and teller share with the story. Unlike the performing I do in theatre, when telling stories, I connect with the audience and allow each performance to be a bit different than any other telling. There have been times I have changed a story to better fit an audience or I have added a story that I thought that particular audience would enjoy. Truly, storytelling is such a special art form that allows the teller to take second stage to the story itself by bringing the audience right into the moment as if one could not exist without the other. Good storytelling is a magical experience.

What does a storyteller do? That depends on what the audience wants me to do! Many audiences want me to perform a concert I have already developed which means I stand and tell stories on a given theme for about an hour. Some groups want me to weave in personal stories with folklore or develop a concert based upon their particular needs like the telling I do for Kosciusko Country Visitors Bureau telling The Stories of Kosciusko County. I have also been asked to perform in-service training and writing residencies for schools or business on the importance of storytelling and how to use storytelling to improve community and communication.

Where does a storyteller perform? I have my own battery-operated amplification system I wear on my body. I can perform inside a building or outside when necessary. I do not need a stage or any kind of special lighting. I perform in schools, libraries, churches, businesses, at parks, for meetings, at festivals, and I have even performed stories at a zoo! The Chattervox sound system I wear allows me to move independently of any wires so I can “work the crowd” or stand on a stage area. Basically, I can perform anywhere!

What kind of stories do you tell? When I first started telling about 11 years ago, I mainly performed for schools and libraries. Most of my stories were developed for young audiences. I have since developed a few historical concerts which have become very popular with all ages, schools and retirement centers, museums and historical groups. I love to tell silly stories, personal stories, historical and cultural stories. Check out my list of concerts. If you do not see what you need, tell me and I will work with you to develop a concert to meet your needs.

How long have you been telling? My mother would say I’ve been telling stories my whole life...the kind of stories that got me out of trouble or out of doing the dishes! In 1998 I stumbled upon a storytelling course at Arizona State University taught by national teller Don Doyle that changed my life. I had been performing theatre since the age of five, but this course gave me a new venue and a new skill. I continued my studies with South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute where I finished my degree in storytelling and became an adjunct faculty member teaching The Art of Storytelling, Puppets and Storytelling, and Storytelling in Educational Settings. Through the coursework and the groups that hired me, I was able to develop diverse concerts and learn many stories. Since moving to Indiana, I have found my historical telling is most popular. Over these many years of professional telling, I have learned to enjoy telling what others enjoy hearing!

Do you ever write your own stories? Yes! I tell many personal stories I have written first. I love to tell stories about growing up in rural Indiana. There are many stories I tell about my pets and travels. I have a few stories of mature themes I share with women’s shelters and recovery groups. I have learned that stories can heal whether it is because we laugh or we cry together and sometimes both at once! Telling my own stories is actually harder because I cannot always tell the story exactly the way it happened or use the real names of those who were there. Sometimes the stories take on a life of their own becoming more than what I had intended to write or to share! It is much easier to learn a story someone else has written, but there is nothing more fun than telling something that really happened to me!

Why do you tell stories? Telling stories is more than just fun, it is an opportunity to share who I am with an audience and gain from them a tremendous connection. I care deeply about the stories I tell and share them as I would a gift. The stories are part of me and my message of peace, social justice, being a strong female in a man’s world, human values, and sharing a laugh. I learn from the stories I tell and learn from the audience who hears them. Storytelling is a powerful experience of connection and community.