P is for Planning the Performance
There will come a time in your career when you have an opportunity to plan a storytelling performance -- not just your own, but a program consisting of storytellers and perhaps other artists.
I enjoyed this privilege a couple of years ago when I produced a show consisting of eight different storytellers -- men and women with different storytelling styles -- for one of Edinburgh's major festivals.
It helps if your show has a theme or topic around which to weave the stories. If so, it gives your performers something to guide them in their choice of story. But you still have decisions to make, like who goes first and who closes the show. Storytellers, like other performers, are not devoid of egos and you have to be prepared to deal with requests, pleadings, and demands. Fortunately, that was not the case in this instance, but I've experienced it elsewhere.
"Ah" -- we begin with an appetizer, something to whet the appetite. I suggest short, light tales that are humorous -- something featuring a trickster figure work well. Include some audience participation or interaction. Short and tangy, and interesting . . . leaves them wanting more.
"Ha ha" -- we move into the first of our main courses so an amusing story that evokes laughter, something light and silly but not too heavy.
"Ah haa" -- our next course offers a more rich, thought-provoking tale, something deeper and more substantial -- a wisdom tale perhaps or something which causes the audience to have to consider a moral or ethical choice.
This is a good place for a break, to allow your audience to digest the richness of the previous course. Gives them time to reflect and talk over the tale with their neighbors over a drink.
"Argh" -- after the break, you want to ensure your audience doesn't fall asleep on the richness of the previous story. That calls for a new beginning, a challenging, provoking, even shocking tale presenting the unexpected -- a rare taste of something unusual though not disgusting.
"Ah Yes" -- time for an appertif, an ending that is sweet and pleasant tasting like an after-dinner mint, a story that is harmonious, communal and celebratory -- finishing with a song usually works well too, something which everyone can join in on.