Just the Basics—Beginning Storytelling

When you tell a clear and inviting story, your audience willingly joins you, so you create an even more exciting story by imagining it together.

An introduction to the basics of shaping a dynamic and inviting oral story with an emphasis on structure and sequence, creating environmental details, character development, and performance techniques. Make every story your very own! Discover a process that lets you distill a story to its essentials, so that you can manage all the details without getting lost in them. Lively discussion and fun small group work interspersed with examples of Steven’s storytelling. Single event or residency format.

Recommended for teachers, librarians, beginning performers, and anyone starting to use storytelling in their work. Supports communication curriculum, including listening, language development, and writing skills as well as standards in speech and drama. Available for students 4th grade and up.

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Performing the Image: Balancing Text, Voice, Gesture and Movement

Create a world in an image. Discover how to distill the elements of a character, action or environment to its essentials. Identify the simple performance tools that grow out of the interaction between text, voice, gesture and movement. Explore how the interplay of simple elements creates complex characters or a nuanced environment. An accessible approach to open, inviting images modeled on traditional tales, but applicable to personal, family and original fiction. Single event or residency format.

Recommended for writing, speech and drama students from middle school through university, as well as teachers, librarians, more advanced performers and others who use storytelling in their work.

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Stories in Our Lives: Finding and Sharing Family Stories

Stories create a common memory that strengthens families and communities.

Rediscover personal and family stories within a comfortable, interactive atmosphere. Learn techniques for exploring memory, elements of a well-crafted story, and simple, effective performance tools to fit your storytelling style. Group discussion and small group work interspersed with examples of Steven’s storytelling.

Available in a short introductory format that has been used successfully with parent/teacher groups and senior organizations. A longer format allows time to further explore sources and begin developing individual stories. Recommended for teachers and other adults in community, senior and parent groups.

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Urban Legends: Truth and Lies from a Friend of a Friend

Everyone knows and tells these informal stories about the burglar in the closet, the real ingredients of that hamburger, or the poodle in the microwave. None of them happened to us, but we heard about it from a friend, who heard about it from a friend, or received it in an email. They’re funny and scary and gross, and are probably modern legends.

We hear them at reunions, hanging out with friends, and over the Internet. They reflect legitimate anxieties, offer practical lessons, but also traffic in rumor and stereotypes.

A thoughtful, fun and participatory session of performance and discussion that helps to spot these stories, ask why we tell them, what we are saying about each other, and invites audiences to share the versions that they have heard.

Recommended for middle, high and university students as well as adults.

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Keynotes

Stories and oral storytelling remain an integral part of our modern lives, and they continue to shape our relationships with family, community and language. Steven brings a wry perspective to his passionate belief that our informal, everyday storytelling can bridge generations, strengthen families and communities, and wrap us in the joy of language.

Steven draws from his broad experience with his own family’s traditional storytelling as well as from his work in the theater and as a folklorist to examine and share how storytelling fits into our everyday lives.

One keynote, Stories and Joy, charts in story and observation how his family’s storytelling inextricably connected the wonderful shared memories that shaped his sense of family and community with an appreciation of the language that the storytellers in his family used to explore and share and play with life. The oral literacy that grew in this informal setting provided a firm foundation for his developing literacy in reading and writing.

Steven’s belief in the power of storytelling can shape a warm, often funny, and incisive keynote for your community or organization.

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Coaching

Individual and small group coaching provides the opportunity for one-on-one attention. Develop your own work and style in a relaxed and supportive environment.

Work can begin with an idea, an outline or the complete draft of a story. Steven draws on his years as a performer and writer to help you tease out the essentials, shape the structure, and wrap the story in incisive, inviting images.

Of course, stories are more than text. Steven’s experience as a coach and theater director will help you join text, voice, gesture and movement into a unified whole that will strengthen both the text and your performance.

Hard work? Certainly. Reinvigorating? Absolutely.

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