Is the art of storytelling still alive and well? Helen M Sant tells us why it remains so important
I’m a storyteller. When I tell people this, I get asked, is that for children? Do you read them stories? Do you make the stories up yourself?
The answers are as follows: sometimes storytelling is for children, but it’s just as relevant for adults, which is why the York Festival of Storytelling is featuring lots of events geared towards adults and a range of ages.
Storytelling is the art of performing stories aloud, not acting out plays or reading from books, but just retelling a story. So traditionally, it’s more common for storytellers to retell myths, legends or folklore rather than purely make up stories themselves.
Though some stories may of course take the form of anecdotes, or be written by the storyteller.
In fact, everyone is a storyteller. When you come home from work and tell your other half a tale about what happened, when a trick was played on the new starter or when you swap unsavoury gossip in your local pub, you’re telling a story.
The storytelling practised by professional storytellers is more likely to be about Jason and the Argonauts rather than Jason Arkwright next door however, but the principle is the same. People love stories and they make the world go round!
With increasing concern about literacy levels, storytelling has more value than ever
Back in ancient times, storytelling was a valued craft. The storyteller gathered the crowds together and told them about battles, about brave tales of warriors or how the world was created.
It’s the remnants of these stories, passed down through generations, that we keep alive when we tell stories today, and we celebrate this at the festival.
Storytelling is valuable because it makes people feel safe, at home, and creates a sense of community. It also contributes to children’s development emotionally and improves literacy.
I think, given the recent information about literacy levels in this country, we’re going to see a massive reignited interest in storytelling.
I took over the running of the York Festival of Storytelling in 2012, because I love telling stories and enjoy public speaking.
I know lots of folk enjoy listening to them and I really like to help people feel happy. And what better time than Halloween, to gather round and hear tales of headless hunters, witches, spirits and all that sort of cosy stuff?
Our theme this year is Story in Everything, because stories can be found in the sign language used to communicate, the dance we do or the way we use our voice.
- The York Festival of Storytelling is at The York Railway institute
- For full details of the programme, click here