Most mothers are ready for their baby to come when ten months or so have passed. They have swallowed hundreds of pre-natal pills, stuffed and filled drawers and closets with baby clothes, and packed the suitcase for that urgent ride to the hospital for delivery.
A storyteller could learn from mothers on how to care for the mental, physical and emotional needs.
For the Story—
A mother does not expect to become pregnant and then deliver the baby the next day. She likely made a lot of to-do lists. Repainting a room for the nursery is probably a priority.
The story needs to be outlined in a way that works for the tellers. Some people prefer the visual way by storyboarding. Whether drawing stick figures or intensely detailed images, these series of pictures could bring order to a complex plot.
I enjoy using French Scenes of which the environment, character feelings, and progression of the plot are explored for each part of the story. I ponder upon the Hero’s Journey structure as shared by Joseph Campbell. The hero’s beginning, call to adventures, road of trials, and the ultimate boon can be adapted to most types of stories.
A mother dreams what that moment will be like to hold the new precious one in her arms.
Storytellers can also dream of the perfect performance. Storyteller Carol Esterreicher taught me about the “Circle of Excellence”, a neuro-linguistic practice. An imaginary circle is pictured while the teller builds the visual, audio, and kinetic elements that would motivate and create the best environment for storytelling. For example, one might imagine an elaborate opera house with lights up, friends and family in the audience, hearing applause, and feeling warmth and delight from everyone. A cue, like putting on a cap, might trigger these positive thoughts regardless of the actual atmosphere.
Another mental preparation is to have silence. I prefer to have the radio off when I drive to a performance. This allows me to think only of the stories to be shared at the performance.
For the Story—
A mother’s whole body expands and changes to make room for the little one forming in the womb.
The first time that a story is told aloud, then the story is able to grow and become larger than it was at the beginning. Besides the words, facial expressions and gestures flow with the story. It creates what storyteller Donald Davis calls as “body memory”. The story is beyond outlines and storyboards now.
A mother attends classes to learn how to breathe properly for delivery.
Does this sound familiar? Storytellers must know how to breathe. We breathe so many times during the day that we may take it for granted. When our breathing is acknowledged, then we can control it to enhance out performance.
Our breath may quicken for showtime. Taking deep breaths in and out could calm the nerves and allow us to do our best. I enjoy throwing in some loud yawns. A yawn is the body’s way of saying that more oxygen is needed and not always that one is tired. If no other warm-ups for the vocal chords are done, then some yawns and breaths could help.
For the Story—
A mother could have any emotion emerge at any moment. She does her best to keep the hormones in check.
A storyteller needs to have these skills of detecting when the emotions are too much for a story. Certain tales may remind of tender or outrageous moments. Sadness or anger might come forth from the story and make the audience uncomfortable. The story may need to be “excused” until enough time has passed to feel in control.
A mother knows ultimate joy because she has felt the sorrows. No matter what the obstacle, a mother knows that everything is worth it for that joy.
Fear could easily beset the storyteller. After the preparations and practices, the showtime—or delivery—of the program is at hand. Grasp onto the feeling of confidence that you did all that you could do to make the program a success. You will feel satisfaction when you hear the applause and realize that you did your best.
So what are you waiting for? Go and deliver some beautiful story success!
Until we tell again,