Who hasn’t played rock star in their minds at least once in their life?
One step up from air guitar, playing rock star involves stepping onto the imaginary stage of a huge auditorium with rows of excited faces as far as you can see, taking the microphone from the stand and giving it your all to the accompaniment of screaming, head banging, and general idolatry.
Last week, I ran storytelling sessions and told stories “in the round” to hundreds of bankers from the stage of a large hall in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. Granted, they managed to contain their excitement sufficiently to refrain from dancing in the aisles and throwing their underwear, but nevertheless they were an enthusiastic bunch and my rock star fantasy got a bit of a boost.
The real point of writing this however, apart from being reminded of how much fun it is to work with large groups, is to say that storytelling can thrive in the most unexpected places. Most of my work involves taking story into environments that are desperately in need of an injection of life-world energy: company board rooms, universities and business schools, government departments, NGOs and charities, to name but a few.
And in all those places, when you get behind the facade of organisational life, people are people and, by and large, they love the chance to learn more about storytelling and to share stories.
It’s all a long way from the joys of performing in the Storytelling Hut at the School of Storytelling a decade ago. I still love telling stories but I’ve also come to appreciate the joy people experience when they come to understand that their own stories – and the stories they tell – matter. I’ve discovered that opening the door for others to enter the world of story gives me every bit as much satisfaction as the applause that follows a well-told tale.
Satisfaction. That gives me an idea.