April 17, 2008

Reclaiming "Storyteller" as a Label

Over at Ning, the perennial question of how to define storytelling came up around one corner of the virtual water cooler, as Katie Knudsen asked whether we need to expand our definition of storytelling or hold fast to our tradition. I responded with an answer that goes on and on and on, but focused on the role of the event producer, not the performer, as the one who holds the key to definition. Here's an excerpt:

My point is: storytelling is bigger than "roots storytelling" represented by the festival circuit, and its bigger than "personal storytelling" represented by the Moth. And you certainly can segment your audience and produce events that showcase one sliver of storytelling.... nothing wrong with that.

What doesn't make sense is trying to claim an umbrella term as your own.

Imagine if Milton Berle had tried to claim "television" as the genre for the Texaco Star Theater show, and got all the other comedian hosted variety shows to claim "well, what we do is television." Those soap operas, those news shows, they're not "television."

Imagine if track and field competitors tried to claim that basketball players weren't "athletes" because they used a ball, and had to use teammates.

I'd like to see an event producer create a series or even a festival that is truly open to all forms of storytelling.

You can read my entire post and discussion here.

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