Thursday, 4 February 2010

I was listening and a white rabbit ran past me...

This week the Images4Education course centres around the world of  "digital storytelling". I love stories in any from: from the well-told anecdote to the printed and bound thick saga.

Some years ago I was studying Italian, and on our 5th year we'd start studying art&literature as well as language. The syllabus was structured chronollogically for arts&lit and so the texts we'd discuss were very old -for some we had modern Italian translations available, or a glossary. this happened mostly with short poems. With longer pieces, we had extracts in our coursebook. Now the extracts were not always the beginning of the stories, so some context was needed. Our teacher (who also had lovely anecdotes from her growing- up days in Italy) would then tell us what these stories were about. I was mesmerized; I'd forget about everything and go (internally!) "awww" when she'd finish. Dante's Inferno was never so appealing, I'm sure, as when she told it; Orlando Furioso and Orlando Innamorato were incredibly long poems and could have been terribly tedious, but Adriana made them gems -the gems they must have been to have endured the passing of time. She'd bring out all the internal suffering, the love, the violence...just with her voice standing in a classroom of 15 seated adult students.

That is the power of storytelling.

A few years ago I attended a session of storytelling by A.W., artist, EFL teacher and author of EFL books. The stories were not terribly elaborate, his telling made them wonderful.

Finally, in 2008, I attended (twice) a storytelling session by a Hugh Lupton, "professional storyteller". What a treat!! The stories were mostly folk tales and he must have told between 5-10 with only a break in between (leaving us expectant with only part 1 of a story having been told). Some of the stories were repeated in the second session. It didn't matter at all. I was as enthralled as the first time -if not even more, because I anticipated my favourite bits.

And now for a more recent approach (I think): that same year I also saw Francesca Beard perform her poems in her one-woman show "Chinese Whispers" . What an experience!! She used to have her Tesco poem up in her website but I can't see it now. You can still listen to some others, though. Her "how would you rather die" compatibility survey is coming to mind...

And there are other poets who perform their poems -and it makes the experience so much richer: Tony Harrison performing "Them and [us]" (it requires phonetic script between brackets). Benjamin Zephaniah...

Telling and listening to stories is a much richer experience than reading them or watching them on TV. It's not an everyday thing, though. I'd like to keep it special by indulging in it only when the right atmosphere has a chance to be established.

Now, the digital world is offering new possibilities -we can all tell stories to people far and near, in the way that suits us best.

2 comments:

Vanessa said...

*love* your opening line ~ how perfect: "I was listening and a white rabbit ran past me..." ... how perfect for storytelling as the controlling patter to weave the seemingly disparate elements of digital media, web 2.0, orality & oral traditions into a single, seamless garment.

Beatriz said...

Thank you!! That's a very nice comment to receive...