Saturday, February 21, 2009
Most storytellers that I know personally share their love of stories by sharing from their heart. Most of the storytellers I have met through the years shared their stories from the heart. Along the way I met a few who didn’t quite get it. Those few won’t go far. The audience can sense it when the teller isn’t reaching out to them – to meet them halfway.
When I share a story, it must come from somewhere within me, not just from the brain. It comes from deep down inside my heart and soul. If I select a folktale to share with my audience, I must search long and hard to find the right story that will touch me. If it doesn’t reach out to grab me, I certainly cannot share it with my audience because it isn’t a part of me. It isn’t a part of my heart and soul.
Recently I presented an Oral History program at the NC Outer Banks with a great group of eager listeners in the audience. It was a fun experience for all. By the way, it was an adult audience and I love opportunities to work with adults. Grownups become “children at heart” again when they are taken back in time with stories and memories. As a former children’s librarian I have presented programs to all age levels.
Next month I will be traveling near the Outer Banks to present several more programs. This time I will have the opportunity to speak to another adult audience as well as visit several groups of students. So my time is filling up with fine-tuning my upcoming programs to fit the right audience. It is very important for any public speaker or storyteller to know his or her audience.
Sylvia Payne, a North Carolina Storyteller, comes from a diverse background of Scots Irish, English, and German ancestry. She grew up in the North Carolina foothills listening to family stories told by her mother. A graduate of High Point University and a former children’s librarian, her repertoire includes world folktales, stories of history, legends and family stories. With more than 30 years’ experience, her animated style, and her stories captivate and transport the listener into an imaginary world. In addition, she conducts workshops for parents, teachers, and college and university students. She serves on the North Carolina Storytelling Guild Board and is editor of the Guild’s bi-annual publication, Journal of Tar Heel Tellers. Sylvia has studied with such storytelling masters as Donald Davis, David Holt, Tim Lowry, Connie Regan-Blake and Donna Marie Todd.