Who Needs A Story Teller?
Before the advent of the printing press oral story telling was the only option for the budding narrator/bard/raconteur or, as we say in Australia….“spinner of yarns” However, long before story telling became entertainment it held a powerful place in our evolution. Gilgamesh, the Sumerian epic was recorded on clay tablets in cuneiform script 1,500 years before Homer. Now, I have not read either of these epics but, even without this scholarly exercise, I know that story telling began long before Gilgamesh. Wherever people have lived together there have been stories told.
Oral story telling is an exclusively human characteristic. And, like any activity this form of story telling would have evolved through necessity. Survival of the individual depends on food & shelter. Survival of the group depends on communicating where these essentials are.
Survival of the individual depends on food & shelter. Survival of the group depends on communicating where these essentials are.Just Vicki
Family Historians Are Telling Stories
Family historians are the archetypal story teller. It often begins with telling your own story which in my case resulted in “Herstory” Almost always the trail gently take us back in time and, before we know it, we are telling the stories of others. Those who have left their voices in records, images and the fading memories of their descendants. Speaking personally, my story telling journey began when I realised my grandchildren’s’ understanding of their family history did not include a heritage that belonged to me! Even the stories I have written for this blog are not reaching them. Yet, during a recent visit, my grandson showed me there was another way to share my stories when I recounted a story from my childhood. What began as a conversation subtly changed into a simple, story telling moment.
What began as a conversation subtly changed into a simple, story telling moment.Just Vicki
When Story Telling Becomes The Memory
I have to admit that reading to my grandchildren is my favourite “Nanny” thing ever. The early books are small, tactile and colourful. The older they get the more interesting the stories become. And then they learn to read for themselves! Eventually this happiest of past times becomes a fond memory. Telling your own personal stories is no different. Where you tell the story is a tactile and visual component of the future memory of the story being told. The brain stimulates the designated parts of the brain which then become embedded in the new memory. Telling the story around a camp fire or during a power cut are memorable times that add layers to story being told. Even the language used by the story teller will stimulate the same parts of the brain. When the story teller shares her recollections of going to a circus for the first time, in the days when sawdust covered your shoes and the air was filled with smell of animals, the listeners brain will activate the areas dedicated to smells and touch. This synchronicity of brain activity between story teller and listener almost guarantees the story will be remembered and past on to future generations. Everything that accompanies the story telling becomes part of the listeners memory. Animated facial expressions and the story tellers whole body language can add many layers to the story telling. Jan Blake is the perfect example!
The synchronicity of brain activity between story teller and listener almost guarantees the story will be remembered and past on to future generations.Just Vicki
Story Telling Has No Rules
The first thing to accept is that you have had a life time of story telling. Every conversation you have over a cup of coffee with your BFF is a story. It may begin with, “How was the wedding?” What follows is your story. As a family historian the process is no different. If you want the story to be remembered then bullet points of dates, places and the relationship details of 1st cousin twice removed is not going to cut it. The brain needs feelings, emotions and connections which is precisely what you give, without prior planning, when you tell your best friend about the wedding. Think about it…………
- You know the story you are about to tell very well
- You know your audience. She’s into fashion so you describe the clothes. She loves food so you tell her all about the burnt chicken
- The time to tell the story is limited to getting back to pick up the kids from school so you keep the story to the point but with our leaving out the best bits
- You know your friend well enough to share your feelings, the good and the bad
The first thing to accept is that you have had a life time of story telling. Every conversation you have had over a cup of coffee with your BFF is a story.Just Vicki
The Future Of My Story Telling
My story telling began with my own story This was followed by stories of my father, mother and brother. It wasn’t until I met Theophilus Adcock (the elder) that I realised that my most interesting, violent, yet funny story was boring to read. After finding the story fortuitously, using the 5 free searches in the British Newspaper Archives, the resulting Pen Portrait was little more than a regurgitation of facts. Motivated by my grandsons unexpected interest in the places I had lived, I made myself a promise to introduce the family to Theophilus via oral story telling. The minor problem of my family being scattered in different hemispheres and continents has ruled out any chance of a face to face story telling around the camp fire. The solution involves technology in the form of audio media. I am under no illusions. This first audio story telling will take a lot longer to record than it did to write!
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