Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Telling in Isolation

by Madeline Pots


When it comes to storytelling, I have a free wielding spirit.  I tell personal narrative. From kitchen stories to bedroom tales to the drama of a big family living-room, I’ve enjoyed spilling the beans.

The result of letting the listener into my life is, I gain the comfort of knowing I am not alone. No matter how unique my situation may be, a thread of common experience always binds the audience and me together.  For example, one of my favorite stories is about the gift of a two hundred year old bread dough culture whose survival was foisted upon me. I’ve told the story at small gatherings as well as in a tent packed with 1200 listeners. After every show,  people will come up and tell me about their involvements with unsought responsibilities. And just like that, we are connected. That is the reward of storytelling. Connection.

Our art form faces new challenges during this pandemic and the isolation it has inflicted on us.  Storytelling is an interactive experience.  We tellers depend on audience reaction.  It tempers our performance . We can lean into what is being well received. How then, do we deal with telling into a dispassionate and impersonal camera, iPhone or computer screen?  How can we know if we are connecting?  

Soul searching and heart are the prerequisites for good storytelling, particularly when it comes to personal narrative. And so my message is simple. Listen to your heart and be brave enough to be honest with yourself and the audience, be it live or virtual. A tale that has the ring of truth, will always be well received because in some ways, one story is everyone’s story.

Madeline L. Pots is a former New Yorker who has made a wonderful life for herself in Florida. Whether telling folktales, or personal stories about growing up Brooklyn, she holds listeners in the palm of her hand. Madeline is also a potter and musician. You can learn more about her here http://www.madelinelpots.com

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for capturing the essence of isolation and having the hope to persevere.