Why All Stories Love Noise Cushioning Carpet and Curtains

Like my knee jerk reaction to people asking me if I have been reading any more stories lately, I can struggle when trying to get people to understand what a storytelling event needs in the way of atmosphere. 

My spiel goes like this: Storytelling is not the same as background music in a bar, you need people’s attention, you don’t just talk over storytellers and expect to enjoy the story, or be respectful. 

Tv and radio have changed how we listen; we can talk over radio, walk away from the telly, flick the channel or the station, and not only does no one care, no one on the other end is any the wiser. 

But a live person telling a story needs to concentrate, and in order to cast a spell she needs the audience to also be concentrating. 

There is a reason we watch movies at the cinema, in the dark, with noise cushioning carpet and curtains: we need our attention focussed in order to fully enter the imaginary world. 

It is the same in a live storytelling event.  We can and do recover from interruptions but sometimes it plants a seed of distraction in the mind of those present, including the teller, and the spell is weaker or lost.

Now I don’t often get to end of my rave, eyes have glazed over, urgent needs suddenly remembered or tension levels so uncomfortable even I know I am doing my cause a disservice to keep going.

I also know that I am too precious about this and in fact story and storytelling and people's attention is much more robust than I think. 

The story can be so powerful, the trance so strong that we see nothing but the images in our minds eye, people can come and go, there can be low level background noise, and so long as there are a few people committed to listening, the teller can focus on them.  

ut it is not the ideal.

And we do need idealists…right…?