BEGIN WITH A PROP
A prop can be a highly effective to introduce a story, especially if it has some intrinsic cultural significance, or if you have a personal connection to it (how you got it, won it, found it …)
Before I start the story of the willow pattern, I display a plate I bought on ebay (about S$12)and contextualise what ‘China’ meant to eighteenth century England (far-
For obvious reasons, I don’t pass the plate around the audience (crash!) but if your prop is strong enough to be handled, people love to get hands-
BEGIN WITH MUSIC
Sound, song or rhythm is often a freat way to get people’s attention. It can be as direct as a ‘Calling-
I love my zenko (I wish I could play like this!) -
Begin by setting up the story
The way I tell the story of Arachne is that I divide the audience into four sections and assign each one a key word to listen out for and to respond to in word/action: whenever Group 1 hears me say ARACHNE, they point proudly to their chests and say “I’m the Best!”
Setting up Group 2 (TAPESTRY) also enables me to explain what is tapestry before I start; likewise SHUTTLE and finally, I introduce ATHENA and explain she is the goddess of Wisdom. Each group has its own phrase and action. And there’s a gesture for the entire audience (THE PEOPLE) .
Once they know their roles, I start the story!
THAWING YOUR AUDIENCE
I remember Dame Judi Dench sharing this tip:
if you find your audience is not responsive, note the seats where you do get a response -
Then play the next laugh line directly at the same person/group -
In the Caribbean, the teller cries ‘CRICK’! And the audience responds, “CRACK”
In Japan, folktales always began, Mukashi, mukashi, meaning Long ago, in a certain place …
In Bhutan, the teller cries Dangbo! and the audience responds Dingbo! (Say it several times, playing around with the way you say it -
WITH A QUESTION
Do you ever wonder why bats only come out at night?
Have you ever been so lost you never thought you’d find your way home?
A question invites your audience to respond. It can arouse their curiosity or prompt them to empathise with the character’s predicament.
A long time ago, long ago,
so long ago that no one can remember,
and no tree can remember,
and no rock can remember;
so long ago that there were no people,
and there were no trees,
and the rocks had not been made. . .
Imagine you are on the edge of a great, great forest.
In front of you there is a road, well worn with carriage tracks and hoof prints.
You ride forward – for you too are on horseback – riding briskly, purposefully, for a long time, until the road forks on either side of a towering mahogany tree
How could you live on $1 a day and still have some money left over to
Tuesday February 15th, 1942 began almost like any other.
It was the day before Chinese New Year and here in Singapore . . .
Like a newspaper, it suggests a true or historical story.
“You’re a useless, good-
ASK A RIDDLE
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which
to look back or from which to look ahead.
The End of the Affair
WITH THE DATE