There is a three part process in true, oral storytelling:
1. Finding a story
2. Crafting your story
3. Performing your story.
In this series of four posts I will be focussing in on the last part, the performing, and in this first post I reflect on the notion of 'performance' and the birthing of our story through deep, attentive listening.
I have used the word ‘performing’ deliberately because there is something that happens, a cooking that occurs, when we prepare and tell, at a time dedicated and set aside for the telling and the listening, when we walk to the front and stand before those people and we tell.
It is not the same as going round the circle and having your turn, it is not the same as forming small groups and telling your story to a few others, it is not the same at telling at the pub or the dinner party. It is a performance, which for nearly everyone is scary and cathartic and exhilarating. And it is where the treasure lies. As Joseph Campbell said The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.’
When we enter the hallowed time of the story world, when we honour the teller and the tale, we create sacred space and make a ceremony out of ‘story-telling’ and we imbue the act with gravitas and therefore meaning and impact that is not necessarily absent in other settings, but is not nearly as powerful.
It is in this act of performance that the story is born. The story flies out into the world and returns back to the teller, having bounced off the hearts and minds of those who heard it. The story lives in the teller anew, reverberating and echoing for days, to finally settle in as a newly emerged way of living with those events.
It is a deepening, a knowing, a coming home to owning all of us. It is like drawing an arm around a small part of ourselves and pulling it into the light of who we are.
Of course it is a process not an event, the performance is less impactful without the reflective processing, crafting and practicing that occurs in the lead up to the telling, but the telling is like the climax of the story of the telling.
Does this resonate with you? Have you had that experience after a performance, of echoes of your words coming back to you?