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Interactive Storytelling

       You’ll discover the brilliant storyteller--you! Typically fantastic, usually absurd, always creative, and often "the best" part of a performance, the audience and Megumi create tales on the spot! A perfect ending to any of the above programs. Also available as a how-to teacher workshop. (Grades K - 12)

Study Guide & Bibliography

Interactive Storytelling is the impromptu process of making a story with multiple authors. In the beginning, as the primary storyteller, I inform the others, that I’ll need help telling the story. “When I’m stuck, and don’t know how to tell the next part of the story, raise your hand, if you have a suggestion. If I pick you, tell me your suggestion.”

These suggestions can be anything regarding the characters, events, and the environment in which the story occurs. I can be quite specific, and ask, “What color was the dragon?”, “How many legs did it have?”, or be vague, “In the darkness, I could just make out the outlines of a...”

Of course, the primary storyteller is in charge of the flow of the story, with the necessary elements of beginning, ending, and wonderful adventure(s) in between. I have a choice of having a pre-determined theme (e.g., hibernation, trick-or-treating), or letting the suggestions determine it.

The challenge for the primary storyteller is in treating each suggestion carefully (even the yucky difficult ones), and using them well. See “Tips” under How to Do It.

To encourage, and have fun with imagination. (In the words of Karen Scarvie,The Wooden Horse toy store owner, “Imagination is a necessary ingredient for creativity, which is a necessary element for creative problem-solving, which is crucial for peace and conflict-resolution".)

To give students the opportunity to participate in the creation of a story, with words, songs, sound effects, and movement.


What You’ll Need:
- Flexible, creative thinking.
- Enthusiasm for fun.
- Love of stories.

Who you’ll need:
- A primary storyteller, who embodies all ingredients listed under “What You’ll Need.”
- A group of enthusiastic story-lovers. If they do not yet have all the ingredients listed under “What You’ll Need,” they will develop them.

Before you begin:
Warm up the group with some fun storytelling, preferably with quite a bit of audience participation. This activity sets the mood and help the audience know if they should they be serious, silly, quiet, or loud.

After you finish:
What do you want to do with the story? Although not every story turns out to be fantastic and a “must-publish,” you may still want to record it. It could become chapter 1 of a chapter book, with the characters having other adventures later.


A. Yucky Difficult Suggestions
Some suggestions will seem completely unusable. You’ve asked, “To cross the river, I couldn’t find any bridges, but I did find...” Someone, who may have misunderstood the clues, or is challenging, says, “a bowl of cereal.” What to do?

1. Do not discard it! This is rule number ONE.

2. Use it as a connection to a more viable alternative: “The bowl of cereal seemed useless. But when I looked closer, I saw a little creature taking a bath in the cereal. He said, ‘Hey, you look like someone who needs help crossing this river...’”

3. Use it as a valid suggestion: “Who would of thought that a bowl of cereal could be so helpful for crossing rivers? I asked that bowl of cereal very nicely, “Could you please help me?” and what do you know? It replied, “To cross this river, say the magic words...”

4. Have the group figure out how to use the absurd suggestion: The group is usually watching you very closely, thinking along with you. Although they enjoy seeing you creatively incorporating weird suggestions into the story, they might like a chance at figuring out the story, too. “The bowl of cereal helped me by...”

5. Go off on a tangent to use the suggestion: “You know, I didn’t really need to cross the river right then. In fact, I realized I was down right hungry. So I ate the cereal, while re-thinking the problem of crossing the river. The cereal was quite delicious, with nuts and raisins, and a trace of cinnamon...”

6. If you absolutely can’t use a suggestion, carefully and respectfully put it aside to use later. This alternative is the most difficult alternative, since you don’t want to decline a suggestion after requesting one. Also, you’ll have to remember to use it later. “I saw a bowl of cereal by the river. Though I begged it for help until I was hoarse, it said, “I just didn’t feel like helping right now.’” Then later, “I was stuck in the middle of the river. Now what??! That’s when I heard that bowl of cereal speak up. ‘If you don’t get out, you’ll be turned into a bowl of cereal, like me! I was once a human being, like you...’”

B. Beginnings and Conclusions
Begin with an introduction and end with a conclusion that connects to the audience. For example, at a neighborhood party, begin with, “I love living on this street. The other day, while taking out the garbage, I noticed...”

Around holidays, begin with, “I wasn’t invited to any parties, and was feeling rather bored, when I heard a strange sound from the attic...”

For a birthday party, begin with, “I was really excited when I was invited to John’s birthday party. I was so excited I wasn’t watching where I was walking. Before I knew it, I found myself in a strange town, inhabited by...”

For storytelling on a camping trip, end with, “And that’s what happened after we all said, “Good night” last night and before you all woke up to eat breakfast.”

For students at school, end with, “That’s how I got to school.”

C. What if the story turns out crummy?
A Japanese proverb says, “Failure is the essence of success.” Treat it as a valuable learning experience for the next story.

Have fun!

- Megumi