Tag Archives: Story

Words, Words, Words: Good Quotes on…Storytelling

20 May

“Speak as though you are under the power of the ultimate spirit in the universe, the ultimate mind, the ultimate force force…And speak to these people as though they represent the ultimate…We are singing in a chorus of our voices.  So listen with your entire being to these people.”

Brother Blue, Storyteller


Words, Words, Words: Good Quotes on…Story Structure

14 May

“In the first act set forth the case. In the second, weave together the events, in such ways that until the middle of the third act one may hardly guess the outcome. Always trick expectancy.”

–Lope de Vega, 17th-century playwright

This quote is taken from an excellent post from the always-excellent blog “Observations on Film Art” from Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell. This post debunks the three-act structure as law and gives some historical context. SHOCKING REVELATION: Aristotle, often quoted by screenwriting gurus, doesn’t talk about three acts. Horace did, but he’s a bit less glamorous, right?

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Best of Times: Two Bits of Good News

11 May


I started taking a storytelling class with Michael Katz, a local teller, last week.  I sensed from the start that I was in the right place. Michael is warm, gracious, and knows his craft, everything you’d want in a teacher. During the first class,  he talked about about his process, how he found his way to telling,  and told us the story of “How the Sea Became Salty”, a polycultural tale that he gave a Japanese slant. This class was atypical: the rest of the time will be devoted to workshopping stories.

I read all of “Ready-to-Tell Tales”, an excellent resource for the beginning storyteller.  From it, I selected “Strength”, a story from the Limba people in Sierra Leone. Briefly, it’s the story of the animals (including man) having a contest to see who is the strongest. It has the potential for lots of energy and physical comedy, but has a strong and serious sting at the end. Just what I like: a tale where the laughter lends the story power.  I’d debated whether I should work on my one-person show or a traditional folktale, and settled on the latter because I wanted to work on a piece very different from my show, and get experience in traditional storytelling.

I told it for the first time this last class. If I’m honest, I almost chickened-out. Fortunately, Michael asked if I wanted to do it and I quickly said yes. It went very, very well. People were positive about the story and my telling of it.  The two things I took away from it (aside from the group’s feedback) was the joy I found in connecting do directly with the audience, and the power of serving the story, focusing on channeling it rather than worrying if I was doing a good job.


I just found out today that the short version of my solo piece about 9-11 was accepted into Monday Night Marsh at the Marsh Theater! In the 2 months I’ve been pursuing performance work, I’ve quickly found that all roads lead back to the Marsh. I am elated.

More specifically, all roads lead back to David Ford, with whom I’ll be taking a class next month. My goal was to perform there by September, which I guaranteed by signing up for the class.  But now I’ll be performing in mid-July, roughly two months before I thought I’d be. And, combined with the class, I’ll get to perform the show 4 times on their stage. I anticipate the show making leaps and bounds in this time.

This rounds on me, boys. Progress!

Words, Words, Words: Good Quotes…On Story

21 Apr

“Ideas are never the problem. [The process is] looking for the stories I want to tell. I know that they’re there and that they are hiding somewhere. And it’s a question of finding out where they are.”

Simon McBurney

McBurney is a director, writer, actor, and founder of my favorite theater company, Complicite. Rather than write shows, they devise them.  One of their most recent shows, “A Disappearing Number” changed my life, artistically and personally. See their shows if you can.

The Academy Award Winning Trailer (and what it says about Story Fatigue)

15 Apr

In his book Story, Robert McKee exhorts his readers to write stories, because the world needs storytelling and there is greater demand than ever before.

For me, McKee’s evangelical fervor vacillates between inspiring and eye-rolling, but I do agree with most of what he is saying here: Human beings need stories–individually and collectively–and due to a growing number of entertainment pathways (as more TV channels means more shows and movies-of-the-week, as the intarwebz finds its place, as the gaming business outstrips them all) there is increased need for storytellers and different types of storytelling.

I suspect there’s a flip side of this for viewers: story fatigue. By way of explanation, check out this hilarious parody trailer for an imaginary Academy Award-winning film.

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