Storytelling

Updated: Jul 5

The art of oral storytelling.


Basic course.

Advanced course.

One-to-one personal tutoring.



About the teacher: As you can read in my CV, I am both an artist and a biologist, with more than 40 years experience as an actress, puppeteer, teacher, playwright, storyteller and director. I have performed extensively all over Israel and abroad, participating in major international festivals of puppet theater.


Over the course of those years, I have researched and written stories for my performances with the Train Theater( a children's Puppet Theater in Jerusalem), "science based" stories and performances for the Bloomfield Science Museum of Jerusalem ( for all ages), and "music based" stories for the Family Concert Series with the Jerusalem Symphonic Orchestra. Besides being a writer and performer I have a vast experience as a teacher: for 18 years I have taught drama students about the evolution of many traditional theatrical traditions of South East Asia from oral storytelling (Theater Department, Emuna Academic College in Jerusalem) and for 30 years taught students who want a degree in education, the power of telling stories with shadow figures, puppets or simply the body ( Arts Department, David Yellin Academic College in Jerusalem).


At present I teach privately and at the Dvora Tsafrir School for Puppet Theater and the Art of Storytelling in Tel Aviv.

I perform 2 shows for adults, both storytelling with shadow pictures: “The Cellist” (the life of Pablo Casals) and “The Earthquake in Chile” (based on the story by Heinrich von Kleist). Currently I converting a puppet show of mine into an oral storytelling piece without puppets.( based on another essay by Kleist, “On the Theater of the Marionettes”).

( see my full CV here)


For whom and what is the aim of the course?: To train the body, voice and imagination of all artists whose work involves the oral or written telling of events and characters that unfold through a period of time during which an audience needs to be captivated. You will learn to tell engaging stories, of others and your own story and be a better communicator.

Storytellers, puppeteers, visual theater performers, writers of literature, theater or movie scripts, teachers and lecturers are welcome.


" And all of those who have written down their stories, the greatest are those whose writings differs the least from the speech of the many anonymous storytellers"

Walter Benjamin in The Storyteller (1)



Long before writing, the oral transmission of vital experiences was of such importance in our survival that our brains developed a structure to process this information, and this is story structure. This structure " source-path-goal" is wired in our brains (2), genetically trained to search for meaning, and at least for the last 2500 years since Sophocles wrote his plays, our brains have not changed.

Delivery and reception evolved together; the story someone tells needs the same structure to process it in the brain of the listener. And what storytellers and screenwriters knew for ages, is now confirmed by neuroscience research that can show where brains are activated when we listen to story, as well as explain why and what makes us feel emotionally connected to it (3)


Genetically programmed for story does not mean we all use this structure in the same way. The physical, socio-cultural environment plays a part and there are hundreds of different forms and styles all over the world. It is here we find how creativity was never restricted by structure, and we will learn of storytellers that work just with their bodies, others with music, objects, puppets and paintings, some traditional that live on today, some contemporary.


Storytellers, puppeteers, writers and filmmakers among other visual artists, deal with many different characters and events. From one body, voice, emotion, intent, desire and actions to those of another in quick montage like transitions demands a different way of working with and connecting to one's body than a theater actor that plays one role throughout the evening.

Starting from your own body and voice which will remain the one you will keep as the narrator, the exercises in the course are based on the proponents of embodied acting such as Rick Kemp (4) and my own, developed with my practice as a teacher. They will help you mine your own experiences and the knowledge you have in your body to expand their range of expressivity. This will allow you to embody other characters than yourself, imagine their needs and desires, speak for them, and better write about them if you are a filmmaker or writer, whatever genre. Your will understand the connection between emotion and intention and action, and be able to tell better stories, write better (5), communicate better.

In the second half of the first year we will learn how to integrate props and toys and choose from a few options: a) work with one or more objects as in Turkish and Japanese traditions, b) work with pictures as in the Japanese tradition called Kamishibai or the Italian Cantasoria.

As part of the second advanced year, which is more for people who want to be professional storytellers, and for the sake of experimentation we will dedicate a few lessons to breaking away from the "source-path-goal" structure, reverse it, complicate it, play with it. These experiments in tearing down walls or expanding boundaries will only be meaningful if the reference to what that wall, limit or boundary stood for is made clear. Changes must be done "intentionally and not by mistake" (6)


Duration: One year basic course for all artists. Weekly lessons of minimum 2 or 3 hours each. No previous experience needed.


Additional year advanced training. Mainly for those who want to become professional storytellers and who took the first course.


One-to-one tutoring to develop personal projects, with me as consultant, writer or director at the pace and number of meetings you need.


Where: Frontal classes in my home in Jerusalem. Elsewhere by zoom. Outside Israel people can get together, I can teach in 3 languages.


Languages: The courses can be taught in Hebrew, Spanish and English.



Each class includes: Movement and voice training. Presentation of student work: observation, critique and group discussion. Theoretical lectures on different topics of the storytelling profession. The neuroscience, history and world traditions of storytelling, and video screening to learn and discuss the style of known storytellers around the world, both traditional and contemporary.


Requirements: Simple, comfortable, plain colored clothes, no accessories. Space to do exercises during class. In case the course is done via zoom, a camera of wide angle that connects to the computer is indispensable, it allows the whole body of the performer to be seen, from head to toes at a close distance from the screen. Details of what to purchase will be given.




Some of the people whose work we will refer to in class:


(1) Walter Benjamin. (Essayist and Philosopher). Essays on the art of storytelling.

(2) George Lakoff ( Cognitive linguist and philosopher) Metaphorical thought. How we use physical, body processes to understand and communicate abstract reasoning. Neural theory of metaphor.

(3) Paul Ekman (Professor of Psychology). Nine pathways to generate emotions.

Vittorio Gallese ( Professor of Psychobiology, neuroscientist) Mirror Neurons and empathy.

Lisa Cron (Writing instructor, story consultant and author). Brain wired for story.

(4) Rick Kemp ( Actor, Director) Embodied acting.

(5) Steven James, Laura Packer, Harriet Cole, Sean Buvala ( Storytellers and writers) How Oral Storytelling improved their writing.

(6) Eric Edson (Screen playwright and teacher).

(7) My own work.



Painting by Sir John Everett Millais, 1829–1896





Some of the questions we want to answer the first year:


What makes a story good or bad?

What makes the audience care and listen?

The triangle of relationships: story, storyteller and public. What can wrong and why?

How do I analyze a written story to tell it orally?

What is the relationship between the structural and performative aspects of storytelling.

Narrative, story and plot, what is the difference?

Storytelling as multimodal communication.

Narrative information versus embodied experience: On the basis of what do I choose the parts of the story to tell the audience and which ones to show/act out?

How does the narrator combine past and present and what for?

How do I provoke empathy and how does it work on the audience?

How does suspense work?

What is the role of rhythm and silence? When does silence occur and what is its power?

How do I find the posture, gesture, gravity, balance and voice for each character?

What do we call gesture? Types of gestures. Archetypal gestures.

How does gesture add meaning to the spoken word?

How do eye movements communicate thought?

How do emotion, gestural actions and speech correlate?

How does the storyteller transition between the teller and the characters?

Why is metaphor so common in language?

What is metaphor, symbol and metonymy?

How can I visualize metaphors through movement?

Which parts of my story can be communicated only by movement, without words?

What can the role of sounds and music be in my story?

Exploring storytelling using objects and pictures.(Japanese and Turkish oral traditions)

Relationship between the narrator, the story and Object Theater.( contemporary French)

Storytelling with toys.( a variation of Object Theater)


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Some of the questions we want to answer the second year:



Who’s story is it? Point of view of the narrator.

How much do I know? Levels of insight.

How do I choose a story? For whom? By whom? About whom?

The problem of stereotypes, racism, invisibility in stories. What can we do about it?

How can I tell my own story?

Can I change an existing story?

A deeper study of characters: Allegorical, symbolical.

Is there more than one meaning to the story? Symbolic and literal meanings.

How do I create suspense and humor? What makes things funny?

The 4 main categories of gestures: beat, deitic, iconic and metaphoric.

When do I begin and end a gesture in relationship to spoken words?

How can I visualize metaphors through movement?

Which parts of my story can be communicated only by movement, without words?

Breaking the basic structure of story. Anti-narrative, Surrealism and Postmodernism. Why break the structure? What is my intention?

Breaking the horizontal axis of time (past-present) with a vertical axis of atemporality.

Conflict between 2 simultaneous narratives. Bertold Brecht and European traditions of Picture Storytelling.

The creation of a personal repertoire.

Research resources and what researching a story can reveal to us.


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Individual tutoring

For students and or professionals.

I can either direct all your work or just be an outside “eye”, an artistic adviser.

The meetings are one-to-one and the pace of work is decided between us.



Patricia

972-52-7453802

patod3@gmail.com