Storytelling Arts' mission is to preserve, promote and impart the art of storytelling to develop literacy, strengthen communities and nurture the human spirit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Storytelling Incident

 by Julie Pasqual


Julie with some Littles
In a recent three day residency at a middle school, where I, and four other tellers, where asked to introduce the concept of folktales, and how students could relate them to their own lives, I played one of my favorite games.  I call it ‘Who has ever…”  It is a simple game where I read a list of questions, and if the question applies to you, you cross the room (or change seats, or raise a leg or an arm, depending on where I am playing it).  I played this game before telling a story that, on the surface, would seem to have nothing to do with the student’s lives, but after the story, when we looked back on the questions, we saw that quite a few of the questions applied no just to their own 2016 day to day living, but to the characters in the story as well.  Some of the questions I knew would be rife to get to the kids to talk about, and then write about their personal experiences, but I never expected the question, “Has anyone ever fainted?”  to  provide a PREFECT look at how folktales evolve and grow! 
       It all began in the first of the three classes, when someone mentioned that, like a character in the story, they had seen someone faint.  It was  during a choir concert in a nursing home.  IMMEDIATELY, hands flew up in the air.
“Oh yeah, “several kids said.  “I was there, too!”  Soon, details began to flush out and escalate the tale.  The story grew from it being just someone fainting, to other students seeing it and fainting as well, still others got nauseous and threw up, and the whole time the choral director told them just to keep singing!!  In each of the three classes more details emerged and grew – and I actually got to meet the young man who was the first to faint, who, of course doesn’t remember anything!!  The classroom teacher was stunned she had never heard anything about this before, and said, “And you all tell me you have nothing to write about!!”
           Besides all of us laughing A LOT about what we called “The Nursing Home Incident”, it was the classroom teacher who said, “Remember what JP (my nickname) was telling us about how folktales change and grow over time – this is IT!!!!”  I had to agree.  No amount of explaining, reading, or dissecting could have made the journey of a folktale over time, more tangible and relatable than what the kids had done in real time that day.  And, it all began with a really simple question!!!!