A Storyteller’s Atelier

By Limor Shiponi

“Where can I see your work, your art?”

This question, innocently asked by an interested person while standing together in G’s atelier, sent me into introspect:

I have nothing to show him.
There is no place I could take him.
There is no permanent display or collection he can experience as my body of work.

Hmmm…

I can show him wonders in his imagination.
I can take him around this world and through other world in minutes.
I can tell him any kind of story he might desire, and stories he can’t imagine exist.

But I knew that’s not what he was asking for. He wanted a place to visit and experience for himself without someone in the middle.

“Storytellers don’t have an atelier. In this world, it seems a problem and considering some facets of making it as an artist – it is. But think about it this way – it takes three to storytelling. May I?”

That got him curious enough and smiling. He pulled a chair and there was storytelling.

5 thoughts on “A Storyteller’s Atelier”

  1. Beautifully done, Limor. I was just having this conversation with a young Storyteller and Performer yesterday. She was sharing how someone asked her that question, along with the question, “How do you get ready for your…your…thing?” (LOL) She told them she “practiced in the car, etc.” I told her to tell folks that she was a “Talking Musician”, then saying she practices would make such great since. She liked that, and I did, too, since I came up with that on the fly. 🙂 Much love, my friend.

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  3. Hello Limor, this is a beautiful response. It resonates deeply. And it raised a question for me; why ‘a place to visit and experience for himself without someone in the middle’? Do you see the storyteller as standing in the middle, between the listener and the story? I feel more like a guide in a land-accross-the-boundary; next to the listener and fellow explorer. Or, like a midwife, helping the birthing one from the margin. Always, the listeners have their own authentic experience of story – entirely an ‘experience for himself’.

    1. Hi Iris and welcome.
      I don’t see a storyteller as someone standing between the listener and the story. I love the examples you gave – the guide, the midwife. Like them, we work in a social and communal setting which is core to our art and occupation. We can’t “show” our work somewhere – we have to be in it together with the people who want to experience it.
      The person asking was standing in a fine-arts atelier. I assume it was only natural for him to ask such a question (he’s not the first though). Although the artist was present – which isn’t common when you visit a gallery – he was experiencing for himself as he was discussing with the artist. He was experiencing for himself and then could decide if he wants to consider what the artist was telling him – or not.
      Many other art-forms and occupations can be experienced to a full or certain degree without the presence of the creator. As you have surely noticed, even communal occupations are being forced into formats that suggest the person guiding you is redundant – which in many cases is wrong. But the forces pushing are very strong. I’m sure guides don’t like recorded-guides very much… it’s not only that the recording takes their job. The experience isn’t the same.

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