How to tell a riveting story

You’re cozied up to a campfire, belly full of s’mores, surrounded by the golden-lit faces of your family or friends, and before drowsiness sets in, the group is eager to hear a story. But who will tell it? You will! If you’ve attended Storytelling for Adults at the library, you’ll have a whole bag of tricks to amuse your audience with memorable stories.

storytelling workshop

Professional storyteller Rosie Cutrer will lead Storytelling for Adults, sharing the magic of her expertise with a crowd of novice storytellers at the library 1 p.m. Sat. Aug. 30 in Marvin Auditorium 101A. Registration is required. Call 580-4540 to reserve a space.

Storytelling has a storied tradition. Homer delivered the whole of the Odyssey out loud to eager listeners, and Aesop raised questions of morality in colorful, memorable stories featuring talking animals. Sure, humanity has a strong history of oral tales. But is storytelling still alive?

“Being able to communicate, to express your feelings and thoughts to another person is vital in this day and age,” says Cutrer. “With technology, we’ve gotten away from talking to people face to face.”

The National Storytelling Network (NSN) certainly believes in the importance of storytelling too, and the organization is evidence that there is an enthusiastic movement to keep the ancient tradition alive.

According to NSN, what distinguishes storytelling from other performing arts is that there is no “wall” between storyteller and listeners. The campers can make comments or objections in the middle of the story. And a good storyteller will roll with the punches.

The workshop will offer exercises for telling personal stories, and then delve into methods for developing a story from a folk tale or a written source. Participants will learn how to memorize a story to then take away from the workshop and put into practice with friends and family.

Cutrer is quick to caution, however, that great storytellers don’t tell a story from rote memory. They develop visual images to go along with the story’s narrative, then describe those images to listeners.

The gems of knowledge learned in the workshop can be utilized by a number of people in a variety of settings.

“Some people will come and say, ‘I want to tell stories to my grandchild,’ or say, ‘I’m a teacher and want to share stories with my classroom,’” says Cutrer. And Cutrer will be armed for the workshop with stories kids will love, too.

Workshop participants can also get up in front of an audience to share their stories 7 p.m. Mon. Sept. 8 at PT’s College Hill during the Storytelling & Spoken Word Open Mic that kicks off in September and will be a monthly event through May.

Want to hear the rest of the story? Go visit Rosie’s website and attend the Storytelling for Adults Workshop. Save the date! The NSN is hosting NSN: The HeART of the Story, a two-day festival in Kansas City filled with workshops and live storytelling March 6-7, 2015.

Get books about storytelling. We have quite a few, including these:

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Leah Sewell

Leah is the communications editor at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, a mom to two wily youths, a poet and a rabid fan of anything literary and writerly.