Story Craft- Part Two

noa_s_pictureI am always amazed by my guest faculty.  I must have heard Noa Baum teach a dozen or more times and yet, I always come away with new insights. Noa  runs an intense workshop on storycraft and you had better be ready.  Because our numbers were uneven, I got to sit in to make up a pair and hence, got a chance to experience the workshop as a participant, working with Brandon, and Jennifer and Hashim and Janelle. What a thrill to work with each of them.

What struck me was the power of the listening and what “Listening with Delight” does to the story that the teller is sharing. The listener, says Noa, acts as a magnet to draw out the best story.  If we are not being enlivened by the stories we are hearing, we might start to ask about how we are listening.

The second point that always startles me with its truth is about the relationship between the Story and the Listener.  A story has a Teller and a Listener, says Noa,  and the Teller has to be in control of his Telling, and able to read the Listener. They are the areas of competence a storyteller must work at.  However the Teller is never in control of the relationship between the Story and the Listener. The story as heard by the listener becomes totally something else.

If someone did try and control that relationship and insist that the Listener only hear the story one way, that is propaganda or brainwashing.  The literary theorists invented this obtuse phrase, ‘the play of signifiers” but they got one word right-play. The joy of storytelling is that we give permission to the listener to play with our story and make it their own.

It is what we always teach our students on our peace programs, that what you express might be meaningful to you, but what matters is what gets heard. What you say in the end is what people think you said, and if you have triggered their imaginations to go on their own inner journey, the story they are in might be even more powerful and moving than the story you are telling them. How amazing is that?

Without the cost of a plane ticket, stories transport us to another place in time and another time in place. What a gift. Thank you Noa.