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1 Story Telling - Introduction

Monica Johannessen (NO)

Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and to instill moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view.

A Short Introduction

The Norwegian author Rune Belsvik says about story telling:
"I think that one of the first things that came to the world was stories. A long time afterwards, someone said how the stories should be.
Anyone who can speak tells something every day. Some things/stories are true. Though things are mostly not true at all. The most common and shortest story in our country is simply one word - 'bra' (I feel good). This is the most common answer when someone asks how he or she feels. It is the whole story of how they are. It is a very short story about a person, and often it is not true either… If you really want to tell someone how you feel, it is important to tell him or her in a way so they will not want to leave you before you are finished telling your story. (This applies of course only to persons you do not want to get rid of :)) Perhaps you have to exaggerate to make it exciting. Maybe you do not need to tell everything to keep them from blushing. Maybe you should have a little humour so they will enjoy themselves with your story. There are many possibilities!"

In these pages, we will try to give you a practical lead for adult story telling in
archaeological open-air museums.

The descriptions are adaptable and serve various purposes.  An explanation will be given about how to get the participants to tell and retell stories orally, or creating new, original stories through means of the oral activities involved. They could be expanded or linked to various curricular subjects. You can use the activities as a working 
tool for guests or for training staff. Please feel free to adopt them to your own style and purpose.

Oral Culture

There is a huge difference between an oral and a written culture. You can not/can’t change what is written (it is finished when you finish writing).  You can however change or build up your oral story as you like. Many societies without a written culture have a very rich and varied oral culture. The passing on of oral stories has roots in old traditions and ceremonies. Stories remained in memory by telling them repeatedly. Oral stories express life wisdom and years of experience, usually spanning generations. Oral literature performed in traditional recitals are considered a better projection of the innermost depth of a society's social and cultural life, its traditions, habits, customs, behaviour, rites and so on, compared to written literature.

The source of an oral handed over story is often anonymous. A similar story will be told in partly different versions by letting the story float as fresh water floats in a river. The story will continue from «mouth to mouth», from dialect to dialect, from walleye to walleye, from old to young, where everyone contributes to the story by adding on and removing. By doing this, the story is enriched and establishes its collective basis and traditional environment!

From What Point of View Can You Choose to Tell Your Story

There are several ways of telling a story. You can tell it from the authorial, omniscient, the personal or the third personal point of view.

Authorial point of view:
The Narrator is the one who tells the story. The Narrator sees into or at the people rather than out of them. He/she cannot see into people and portray their thoughts and feelings.

It has been said about the group travelling to Norway: they were about 17 people. They came early in the morning riding on their horses. The mountains where so high that it would take weeks to reach the meeting point, Landa, in time. The snow, the wind, the rain made the trip terrible for them. It’s been told that they had to sleep some nights under the snow in caves…They were totally exhausted and dehydrated, they had fought against bears, wolfs, crazy Norwegians – but finally... finally they could relax at Landa where the nice “head woman” of the village (Monica) was waiting. Moreover, the terrible journey was completely forgotten...

The omniscient point of view:
The Narrator sees all and knows all. He or she is able to tell about people's thoughts, feelings, and being in several places at the same time. Through the narrator’s eyes, we know about people's thoughts and feelings.

She, the “head woman” of the village, really loves it when there are expecting visitors. She is so excited; she is going to make herself a new dress, with wool from her sheep. She will be proud to show how nice she looks in her self-made clothes. She knows that there will be enough time to make the dress, because the visitors will have a long time travelling before they reach her village…if nothing happens to them, she thinks and shivers of frightness.. She knows how horrible the mountains can be, but she has to stop thinking about that, she does not have time to think about her visitors travel because she needs to finish her beautiful dress in time...

1. Personal point of view
the story is told by one or more persons. The Narrator looks from inside the people instead of looking into them or at them. It is also called the “I” point of view.

An I-person tells the story (teller) and presents his own thoughts and feelings. We gain no insight into others' thoughts and feelings. We are seeing and experiencing it all through I-person's senses, thoughts, and feelings.

He was cutting the hair of the sheep; I have chosen the best sheep with the best and finest wool for my dress. I love colours, I think I want the bluecolourwith red beautifully weaved ribbons for me. Oh, this dress is going to be nice, everyone is going to see how wealthy I am ... hmm ... we are. He gave me the wool after I had washed it, now I can start making the dress, I just need to command someone to help me to make it for me...

2. Third-person point of view
Similar to the I- point of view, but it is written in the third person. (He, she)

He was shearing the fleece of the sheep. She had chosen the best sheep with the best and finest wool for her clothes. She just loved colours so she wants to have a beautiful blue dress with a nice red weaved ribbon...


Dramaturgy may be defined broadly, as shaping a story into a form that may be acted. Dramaturgy gives the work or the performance a structure.

Dramaturgy may make the content more interesting for the recipient. To build a story around a problem or conflict can be a good starting point for creating excitement. An exciting tale does not have to be full of intense action scenes and dramatic conflicts. A conflict may also be an issue; a problem needs to be resolved.

This is how you can do it.

  1. The start of a tale shall awaken the union's interest. Do not reveal the whole point of the story yet, but come with small hints, which allow the recipient to see and hear the continuation of the story.
  2. Presentation: Present the theme and the necessary background information, people and environments.
  3. Elaboration: Please explain your presentation; try to appeal the recipient's emotions.
  4. Escalation: It is important to build up an escalation. Escalate your conflict issue.
  5. Solution: The action is triggered when the top tension issue is "resolved".
  6. Ending the story; the problem is "resolved" and the story will appear dimmed.