Not long ago, I ran some training for WEA volunteers about catching each other’s stories. I wanted to give some initial training to volunteers about setting up a storyspace.
They asked lots of questions. What’s the difference between being a storycatcher and teller? Why would anyone come to a session called ‘Storycatching’ in the first place? How would you deal with confidential issues which could come up when telling a story?
Quite a lot to get through then. One of the aspects of being a story catcher is to be more interested in the questions than the answers. Just as well then. It also means being a good listener, something else I picked on after attending the storytelling Festival at the Edge (FATE) at Much Wenlock one summer.
I introduced the idea of people telling a story and listening to it in silence and not commenting on it when it ended. You leave a pause before the next storyteller speaks. There is an urge to offer a comment, to say something. I offered the view that it was more powerful for the speaker to be listened to. He or she gains a better sense of who they are. This is not to say that all groups are serious. People can choose what to tell or read out aloud if they prefer. The subjects can be serious or fun or both. A group can decide on a theme or leave it open, see what comes up.
It may lead to people reading more, keeping their own journal, perhaps. It may lead to a literacy stragegy for adults.
We’re nearer the beginning of this journey, so we’ll see. It was a pleasure to work with such open-minded and curious people. By the way, each of us told a story and they were fascinating. That’s why people come to storyspaces.