Mudcat Café message #1781008 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #92900   Message #1781008
Posted By: Northerner
11-Jul-06 - 10:08 AM
Thread Name: Story selection - storytelling to adults
Subject: Story selection - storytelling to adults
I hope you don't mind my posting this in the music threads; it is about performance so I think it probably does belong here.

I have been storytelling for almost a year now. There is not a storytelling circle where I am, though I do go away to festivals and events, and a storytelling circle occasionally. Too expensive for me to do all the time. So one of my main places for telling a story at the moment is turning up at a local folk club with a story. My first couple of stories were fine as I chose a couple of local legends that were good ghost stories. Fine for adults!   

I have had more trouble choosing subsequent stories though. There is a definite sense that stories are for children rather than adults. Kiddies' tales as one person called stories. I did tell this particular gentleman that there were stories that were suitable for adults and he went, "You mean sexy, like?" I hastened to say that no, I meant more complex!!!

The audiences don't have much background in storytelling. I have lost count of the times people say, "Do you write them yourself?" and "How do learn all those words?" I tell traditional folk tales. Most of the audiences have seen very few storytellers - Taffy Thomas at Whitby mainly. My own main role model is actually Stanley Robertson as I was fortunate enough to live in Aberdeen for a year when I was younger and Stanley used to tell quite often at the folk club. Over the last year I have been to storytelling events up and down the country so have now seen quite a good number of top storytellers. This has probably made my background wider than my friends who go to the folk clubs with me.

I am trying to choose some new material to tell at the clubs at the moment. The golden rule in story selection is to choose a story you love. Well actually I love a whole lot of stories so that is no problem. But how do I choose stories that my audiences will love too?

I asked a few friends at the club what they liked. Big mistake! One said he didn't like happy endings, another wanted exciting stories and a third said he didn't want fairy stories. I'm no further forward.

Can you advice me please on what would be the definite no-no's?   I'm avoiding the classic fairy tales that most people have learnt as a child (but don't rule out interesting variants). I'm avoiding imps, elves, pixies and fairies (unless it's a really good story) because of the poor way that this area was treated by the Victorians.

Where does that leave me with the vast amounts of stories with magic in them - many wonderful stories? Or the many excellent stories with animals in them? Will they be considered childish? I have seen many top storytellers with a gift for bringing these stories to life, even for adult audiences.

I am still fairly close to being a beginner; it takes a very long time to become a highly skilled storyteller so I am not going to be as good telling them as a professional is. And I've also managed to score an own goal I think as I am also a singer and my songs generally are very well received.

If anyone could give me some tips I would be most grateful. Thank you.