Picture of Celia White. Via The Island Institute
Storytelling is not only fun, it’s also a valuable skill to improve communication and be a more effective public speaker. That’s what makes an upcoming storytelling workshop especially suited to children and teenagers who may be interested in the spoken word. This weekend at the Kodiak Public Library, Celia Whitehead will teach the first in a series of workshops for kids ages 10 to 16.
Whitehead is a storyteller who has led workshops on the east coast, including in her home state of Maine, and says her passion for the art started in childhood. She says her grandfather was the storyteller of her family.
“Just out of nowhere, he’d come up with these little riddles or songs or stories that would get [me] motivated, so that was where I first really was exposed to storytelling as this incredibly powerful thing, and then I heard about a storytelling workshop that was happening at the public library. We did a lot of creating stories from scratch as well as learning some stories.”
Whitehead says she hopes this workshop will encourage a passion in Kodiak kids.
“I feel a certain amount of pressure. Like, I really want people to enjoy this. I don’t even know where it came from, this vision of being a bard and how powerful that is. To hold the stories of the people and to share them and to bring more people into that fold, so I really look forward to getting some other people really excited about the power of their own voice, the power of their own imagination.”
The workshop is called Storyteller’s Toolbox and will teach the basics of building a story. Whitehead says narratives are different when you take them from the page and turn them into performance.
Her first piece of advice is to know your first line and your last line.
“That way you’ll be grounded. You don’t really want to memorize the whole story because it’s not the same thing. Storytelling is a very interactive and free-flowing kind of activity. You have the creative ability to remake the story in whatever way you want to. So, I say just note down the main points of action. Know what the actions are that make the story what it is.”
She also says speakers should be aware of their speed.
“It doesn’t mean you have to be fast or slow, but be fast when things are getting really tense in the story. Maybe slow down if something is really gonna be suspenseful and you’re trying to build up some suspense. Same with volume. You always need a certain amount of volume, but an intensity of quiet can be much stronger than yelling.”
The workshop is sponsored in part by the Kodiak Public Library Association and is free of charge. It will take place Saturday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., and the next three classes will be on the third Saturday of the following months. They are titled Fractured Fairy Tales, Stories from Around the World, and True Voice.
Check out the Kodiak Public Library website for more information.