Thirst for Stories

Ensemble member Nathan Drackett shares with us some of his musings on his “Thirst for Stories”.

Seeing “From the Circle” got me thinking about how many ways we tell stories these days. When I think of the word “storyteller”, it evokes a more ancient image, perhaps involving a campfire or a tribe. But how many times do we think of a storyteller as being a movie projector, or ear-bud headphones playing a podcast, or our living room television?

As much as the landscape of our lives changes and transforms, our hunger for stories lives on. I’ve reached the point where I often surround myself with stories as much as humanly possible.

A day last week was a day full of stories. I woke up in the morning and started with breakfast with a side of YouTube. Many videos are less than a minute long, but each contains some bit of story. I settled into a few of RSA Animate’s ( films which take speeches about anything from “changing education” to “choice” and literally draws them up on a whiteboard complete with cute caricatures and doodles that literally illustrate the speaker’s ideas. Without the visual representation of these speeches, I’m not sure I would understand what they were talking about.  They’re often about more complicated concepts, and are delivered by leaders in their fields. However, with introduction of characters, events, and movement (basically a story), it is put into a form that I can understand, and thoroughly enjoy.

This reminds me of  “From the Circle”, where most of the stories are folk tales from different cultures. On paper, they may not be as exciting to many people. If you have a particular interest in folk tales or foreign cultures, you might seek these stories out in a bookstore or online.  However, with the addition of a skilled storyteller, these tales are infinitely more interesting to a wider audience, and we are much more poised to listen.

Following breakfast I had to catch a bus to The Den Theatre to help usher for the matinee performance of From the Circle. Once on the Clark 22 bus, I found a seat and popped in my ear-buds for the latest “This American Life” ( podcast to listen to. This Chicago-native radio show has mastered the art of storytelling. In their last show titled “Auto Show”, one section details the strategies and secrets of a car salesman. Now, if you came to me and said “let me tell you about car salesman”, my interest level might be at 30%. If I weren’t doing anything else, I would cautiously give you my attention. However, if you came to me and said “”let me tell you a story about a car salesman”, my interest would skyrocket.

Again, this echoes with “From the Circle”. If I said “let me tell you about the earth and the sky”, how interested would you be? Then how is “let me tell you a story about the earth and the sky”? Telling a story gives the teller infinite freedom. Instead of the convergent thinking that potentially narrows a listener’s interest in a topic, a story throws the topic into the divergent streams that widens the interest to whatever we can imagine.

Eventually, my day’s journeys led me to re-watching an episode Arrested Development from my bed. I may not have been snuggling up with a book, but my thirst for story was temporarily quenched.

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