Saturday, October 18, 2008

Story Games workshop

On Thursday I gave the second of three workshops on this tour, for teachers at Cultura Inglesa. The request had been for interactive storytelling, so I gathered up my workshop on story games and was ready to roll.

I love this workshop. My goal is to give the teachers tools they can take back and use, to engage the participants in a meaningful way, and to have fun. That last one is often my goal in whatever I do.

After I introduced myself, we dove into story games. Some highlight story structure, some just loosen everybody up. In one, used by many storytellers in workshops, I tell a story and the participants split into groups and retell it by turns. This gives everybody a chance to feel successful. 

One game I planned to teach, but didn't have time for, is Magic Box. In Rio, I found a great box in the shape of a book in a kind of craft store (eventually I might decorate it). It's perfect for this game. 

I begin by opening the lid and telling the participants what I see inside. It could be a couple of chickens playing football, it could be a big birthday party for the queen, it could be anything. I pass the box to the next person who describes either a continuation or a new scene. I learned this years ago from somebody on the storytell listserv (who?) and have had a great time with it ever since. Another version is to fill it with small toys or figurines and make up a story from these.

I hadn't expected to teach puppetry, but Sylvia, who helped organize this workshop, saw me perform last week and asked if I would add a little in. I gave a basic introduction to using hand puppets in storytelling (different from using puppets in a stage show) and answered questions before the break.

After the break, we moved on to the importance of body, gesture, voice and emotion in stories. We played a few more games to underline these elements, including Park Bench, which I learned many years ago from Heather Forest 

One of the most valuable parts of this workshop was at the end, in the reflections. This is a new component of workshops for me, something I learned from the Lied.Art.Teach seminars led by the folks from the Kennedy Center. The teachers talked about what they learned, about how they might use these techniques with their students, about other things they noticed. In the Kennedy Center seminar, I learned a useful tool: the six-second rule. After asking the participants a question or for other feedback, wait six seconds before filling the silence. Participants will often jump in at this point. 

I'll do another workshop on Wednesday at a school. I hope it goes as well as this one did.


Deb said...

Actually, I like that this box is so neutral looking. Anything could be in it -- it's entirely up to the person looking!

megan hicks said...

Hey kiddo! Sounds as though you're really getting your money's worth out of this adventure. I love your photos and your food descriptions. It finally turned autumn, so you'll have a little seasonal whiplash when you get home. Cheers!

PriscillaHowe said...

DLH--that was my first thought, too, so maybe I'll just leave it. I forgot to say that it also smells wonderful.

Megan--nice to hear from you! I keep thinking about you and how it was on your South American tour. You really helped me get my mind and heart ready for this trip. Not to mention advice about quick-drying underwear. Thanks!