A Band of Story-tellers

The Back Story

Over on Rewild.info we’ve started an intense and varied conversation on resuscitating Story.

I’ve gotten into a funny space with stories and entertainment as of late. I know I’ve wanted for a long time to start replacing the movies and tv-shows-on-dvd that I’ve watched of late, with home-grown Story. But I didn’t know how. How do you kick-start a grass-roots storytelling scene, that has a fighting chance to out-do the wickedly skillful world of Hollywood entertainment?

Enter the indie story-game world, ‘indie’ as in ‘small press, creator-owned’, much like indie comics and indie film, and ‘story-game’ as the next generation of role-playing games, when all the shoot-’em-up-and-steal-their-stuff types have left the room to play networked carnage in a virtual world courtesy of the magical internet.

Many of these games focus on creating Story itself, not just entertainment, but a satisfying, meaningful, and unexpected narrative. In doing so, they demand that the players brush-up on the skills that make a Story worth telling, and worth hearing.

What you end up with, then, involves a collaborative Story, where in the middle of a circle of creative people something emerges, greater than any could have done on their own. An expression of their creative commonality.

‘Hey guys, instead of starting a rock band, let’s start a Story Band!’

Calling this circle of storytellers a Band seems to most accurately sum up the experience, on all the levels that it takes place. The storytellers jam together to get to a place where things ‘click’, emotions run freely, and the characters and Story achieve their own life.

The rules of the particular story-game (and you’ll find a wide diversity of them, with very different rules in order to make specific kinds of stories) serve as the ‘rules’ of music itself. Do we play jazz? Blues? Rock? Pop? Punk? Each kind of Story requires a different structure to the experience.

Also, it requires the same skills as a group of jamming musicians. Generosity, the ability to listen and respond, staying in the moment (staying with the music!), and the oneness of mind that emerges from it. This both requires and creates trust, and so, like with any band, you pick the players carefully, with trust and safety in mind. Especially in the beginning, for those new-to-storytelling, who need to find their sea-legs and gain confidence.

Collaborative Story Means Teamwork

The other benefit of this rests in the need to learn not just to reconnect with Story, but to reconnect with other people. Learning to collaborate means learning team skills, means going back to our roots of consensus and sharing. I think music bands, and the stories, movies, and legends about them, inspire us so much because they remind us of the iconic power and satisfying lifestyle of the Team. The legendary backstory, the soap opera of loves and loss, we eat this up because we eat up sharing and collaborating and making beauty together.

So as you make Story, you’ll also remake each other.

And maybe too you’ll create a legendary Story-Band worth remembering.

But Why Make Story?

Do we do it just so we don’t watch TV, so we don’t consume movies and mass-entertainment?

I don’t know if I can tackle this one by myself. And anyway, if you read Martin Prechtel’s book, the Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun, then I wouldn’t have anything more to say anyway. I wouldn’t have to, because you’d get it. Hint, hint.

Written by Willem