On Friday, December 5, 2014, InterPlay Atlanta received a special treat--a performance workshop, "The Power of Story," with Ginny Going and Tom Henderson, national InterPlayers visiting from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Here's the description that Ginny and Tom gave InterPlay Atlanta to advertise the performance workshop:
What makes a story interesting?
Answer: Almost anything. The details of our lives are interesting because they connect to the universal themes of our human condition. We know this from the experience of babbling (performing for each other). What about a story in performance? Same answer, and the techniques are not so different. The most important thing is this -- be excited about telling your story! Even seemingly mundane stories can be entertaining if you're excited about telling it. If you're not excited, your audience won't be either. We'll play with ideas and tools for bringing fullness to your story telling thus generating engagement with your audience.
InterPlay performance is about stepping into our fullness said Ginny Going in her introduction at the beginning of the workshop. It's all about intensity. We step into our big body out of our ordinary body. We make shifts and create contrasts. She referenced our workshop, "Give Performance a Hug" with Phil Porter and how we worked with expanding our range from fast to slow, loud to soft, and big and small. Ask yourself, "How can I build contrast in dynamics?"
After warming up InterPlay fashion, Tom Henderson led us in a series of story telling exercises using 3 different techniques:
1. DISCARDING CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
First, we got practice discarding chronological order. We were given instructions to start our stories some where else other than the beginning. I stated my story in the middle of a July morning in the badlands of Montana out fossil hunting just when the 40 mile winds started blowing us down the hillside and across the rock encrusted terrain. What liberation to forgo details and jump into where the action starts! I could have started at the end when all the fossil hunters sat cloistered in a trailer huddling over their computers waiting for the hostile winds to settle down.
|TEACHING BY DOING. Here Tom Henderson teaches the power story telling by telling his own story. Tom and Ginny brought 20 years of InterPlay experience to the InterPlay Atlanta performance workshop. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)|
Then we had a chance to find a point in our stories where we could become inarticulate and speak in gibberish or a made up language. Tom demonstrated with a story of his own about the presence of a dangerous chemical in his work environment. The gibberish can express frustation, confusion, or anything that just fails to be expressed adequately using words.
3. THE LEFT TURN
This story telling technique allows story tellers to digress from the main plot of the narrative, to follow a topic that comes up in the story but is not central to it. The story teller can return to the main storyline or continue to follow the "left turn."
Whenever telling these stories, we have been given permission by Tom and Ginny to leave the audience "hanging." In a performance, we do not have to complete the whole story. Often, InterPlay performers want to tell a bigger story than is necessary, they told us. Finding the end to a performance is a skill and finishing a story sooner is better than finishing it later. Leaving the audience wanting more from your performance is preferred to the reverse.
FINDING A UNIVERSAL THEME
|UNIVERSAL THEMES. We were asked, "How do our stories connect with universal themes?" Tom records our theme words as Ginny supervises and supports. What a team! (photo by Ruth Schowalter)|
Then they asked us, "How do our stories connect with these universal themes?"
What ensued was fun, stimulating, and just plain interesting. In pairs, we told one of our own stories connecting it to a universal theme. We had three minutes to tell a full-body story playing around with contrasts using any of the previous techniques we had just practiced. I spoke on the universal theme of adventure and talked about my time in Australia, when I was searching for dinosaur tracks on the Victoria coast and had to scale down a cliff to Knowledge Creek fitting my feet into a wallaby trackway and holding on to shrubs!
Then half of us workshop participants were asked to stand up and to share our stories with all of the participants but condensing our three-minute stories into one minute!
After that, if we had had enough time, we would have completed this universally themed story telling exercise by reducing its telling to 3 sentences! Only!
As the workshop hours dwindled, we played with three more InterPlay forms: DT3's (dance talk, dance talk, dance talk), Side by Side Stories, and Gesture Choir.
|SIDE BY SIDE STORY TELLING. Al, Jennifer, and Christine told Side by Side stories about high school. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)|
We can move our bodies to tell our stories.
A story exists in more than just a box in our heads.
When moving, a storyteller gets a fuller sense of the story at a cellular level.
|GESTURE CHOIR. Getting a fuller sense of the story at a cellular level and so much more. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)|
When working together with other performers, "sacrifice" for the good ending.
Let movement be movement.
Let the story emerge from the body.
Part of letting go is releasing the need to tell a continuous, linear story.
When telling a Side by Side Story, move around, do not stay in the same lane; interrupting is good, picking up words or phrases from other story tellers is good; keeping your visual focus on the audience and not other players is desirable.
|THE POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP HAS CONCLUDED. Participants thoroughly enjoyed Ginny and Tom's workshop and were sorry to see it come to an end. There was so much more fun to be had. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)|
Blogs about other Performance Workshops InterPlay Atlanta has received:
Creating a Container and Creating the Thing with Sheila Collins
Foundation and Decoration with Sheila Collins
Give Performance a Hug with Phil Porter
The Power of Story with Ginny Going and Tom Henderson
|NOTE TAKING. That's me, Ruth Schowalter, center, taking notes about what Ginny Going is saying in "The Power of Story" workshop. (photo by Callahan Pope McDonough)|