Collecting thoughts about artists’ daily routine, it is pretty clear to me that most of these routines are the outcome of an educational framework. I’m not using the term “formal education” since it might be interpreted as ‘academic’. Art education starts much earlier and in many cultures and along many centuries didn’t pass through academies as we know them today. Did artists lack in skill and knowledge because of that? no, they didn’t.
What is clear about those educational frameworks is that they were a stable, well paced, guided, long paths. If you wanted to become a storyteller, you knew in advance it will take years to become one – in your masters’ eyes, in the eyes of your community and in your own eyes too. Knowing that, if you were really passionate about it, you would give your consent to walk the long path and do whatever needs to be done. Through the journey you acquired habits of the art, and those habits turned eventually into your daily routine. Same as “formal education”.
Missing: an educational framework for storytellers
Some of today’s storytellers were lucky enough to receive their storytelling education as part of their families tradition. Some were blessed by the elders in their community to carry the tradition. Some were not ‘officially appointed’ but were burning with such desire and devotion, they eventually received full recognition.
Most of today’s storytellers picked-up storytelling somewhere along the road and continued from there: with the help of peers, workshops, training, performing, coaching, attending conferences, traveling, reading and so forth. Each of us accumulated experience and knowledge until they integrated to a certain level – for better or less. Before the question “says who?” kicks in, I’ll repeat – an educational framework for storytelling is missing. If it was in place, storytellers wouldn’t become so touchy about rating the outcome and discerning storytelling for what it is and what it is not.
Call to action (to adventure in our language)
A year ago, The Storytelling Company’s team decided to address the issue seriously. We’ve accumulated a full curriculum in order to see for once and all what the mysterious creature might look like. We use this body of knowledge when training in various settings and are slowly establishing the rout towards a collaboration with a cultural center that is willing to help carry such an initiative through – the storytelling way.
We are not the first group to do so. Pop over to The Crick Crack Club and see what can be done when you take it seriously and work to find the right partners. There are more of those groups out there.
Thing is – the artform sees more lower moments than bright ones. We need to unite our power in some way so people can see a path in front of their eyes. Locally, there is a lot of good going on. Still, something is lacking and I think that those who have managed to establish a “disciple’s path”, should meet and work out this issue for the benefit of all and especially the artform. True, we can manage very well keeping to our personal success but I feel we have a greater responsibility.
When there is a will, there is a way. Is there a will? I don’t know, I’ll be happy to know more.
Hinting about a possible daily routine
Hinting – mainly because there is no agreed educational framework I can point at. Anyway, you might want to consider this advice:
Attend other storytellers’ performances as audience – on a regular basis.
Read stories, listen to stories and craft stories just for practice. Do it with stories from genres you don’t usually tell in. Take stories apart and reassemble them to understand their structure, what dramatic patterns they use, what performance patterns hide within them.
Do vocal work, movement awareness, expand your vocal and kinesthetic repertoire so you have many possibilities; so you can let characters in story and audience pass and live through you without having to fix and judge them to be your size.
Engage in some sort of physical and mental practice that enhances focus, mindfulness, being present. A storyteller’s brain is a busy place, you can become very tense for many reasons. If your being is taken care of, your doing flows with ease. You get to choose every single second.
Perform research and not only about the stories you want to tell. Find a detail or a challenge about storytelling that keeps you curious and dig in. Trying to understand what this art is made of teaches you a lot. Teach others too.
Research the path between folklore and art. Research the other way round.
Improvise massively. Send yourself into less convenient situations and do some storytelling there. Find the way. Hitting rock bottom in storytelling is a good way to learn and practice. The inner debate you’ll experience is something no one can teach you and it will make you dense. Dense is good in storytelling (aware of slang – that kind of dense too).
Try and find whatever you can about our predecessors – ancient and not so ancient storytellers and storytelling traditions.
Sing, learn to play something. Music and storytelling both use patterns that exist IN TIME. Texts are coded situations. If you want to decode them and make them live in time, you need to know the patterns. Music can help a lot with this issue.
If you’re involved is some sort of storytelling application – storytelling in education, in business, in training, in coaching, whatever – take a break for a while and focus on storytelling in storytelling. If you teach others on a regular basis – take time off, be the artist you need to be.
Perform massively, tell the same stories again and again, find them audiences.
And finally for now – travel. Go visit the places in your tales, meet storytellers from other cultures and sit with them for a while. It’s not for your daily routine but try and keep it annual.
I think we have enough here to initiate a daily routine…