2020 was the first year I helped to teach a formal Storytelling class. One of the things I made a point of reinforcing is to go out and tell stories as much as possible. The more you do it, the better you will get.
Then began thinking, “Where do students go to practice the story for one of these shows?’ In class, like most classes I’m sure, students get multiple times to practice a story before a student showcase. What about when you’re new? Or when you are practicing a style or type of story that is different than what you normally do. Where do you go then? Especially in the virtual world?
There are 2 places I know to recommend that are perfect for this: Story Swaps and Storytelling Open mics. Two different places to practice telling better stories. Here is what I know about them.
Story swaps, also referred to as story circles and other names, have been around for a long time. While meant for all types of stories, the most common ones here are from folklore, religious/sacred stories, or other stories that are already known. Story swaps are a great way to find stories from various styles, get input on delivery and accuracy, or to just have a fun time listening to lots of stories.
In Storytelling, there are actually 2 types of open mics: with or without feedback. If you are saying to yourself “Is that like a stand-up comedy, music, or poetry slams open mics?” you are on the right track! Open mics normally focus on the storytellers telling a personal narrative story, but can include other types of storytelling. The storytellers normally get between 5-10 mins for a story. Some open mics allow for feedback either from other members or the host. Just like the open mics of other art forms, you are fine tuning something original that you are developing.
So, which one is best to attend?
There isn’t a better one. Just be clear on what you are working on. Both are great ways to get in the reps you need to get better at telling the story. They are also a great way to meet other storytellers, find out about various types of storytelling, and find out about storytelling shows to pitch to later.
After the year that we had in 2020, I’m sure more and more people now know they have a story to tell. Be sure to tell your story on purpose.
To help get you started, below are links to people, places, and organizations that that run storytelling swaps and open mics. MAKE SURE to check the details of what it takes to get to the event. For some of the links below, you will need to search the website to get the info.
- Better Said Than Done
- Voices in the Glenn
- Tuscon Tellers of Tales
- San Antonio Storytellers
- Dallas Storytelling Guild
- FEAST (Federation of Asian Storytellers)
- Another time, another place Storytelling mic with Hailey Hackett
- GRIT (True Stories That Matter) by Sean Wellington
- Story Collider
- Now Listen Here
- Smut Slam International
- Story Circle (open mic) from Minnesota
- Story Space
- Illinois Storytelling, Inc
- The Cocoon produced by Story Jam
- Story Luck
- Janet Dowling has MUTIPLE open mics based in England; some going on this week.
- Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org