What does Storyjamming mean?

The only way back to life-affirming Story, lies in taking back the responsibility to tell it.

I coined the word Storyjamming to refer to a specific style of collaborative storytelling. When jamming Story, the performers fill the role of the audience as they weave a story together, using one of very many story games to structure and guide their participation.

This doesn’t differ much, if at all, from musical jamming, especially as expressed in Old-Time music gatherings, where a circle of fiddlers, guitarists, and others will crank away at tunes for hours, purely for their own satisfaction, riffing and playing with the form.

Storyjamming has some very specific techniques to pull a group together and warm them up for the challenging and thrilling exercise of their intuition and surrender to group creativity; Viola Spolin’s Theater Games method inspired the use of most of these games. For the actual structure of the story, we often pick up the work of indie story game designers, a culture that includes many creators with ‘zine’ style sensibilities.

When we jam story, we, the tale tellers, share a vivid waking dream, and participate by each representing a character in that story, and drive it with these characters’ wants, needs, hopes, and fears. Sometimes we jam epic Myths, sometimes Horror, sometimes we jam everyday Soap Opera. But always the stories that come from skilled players carry a great meaning and potential for healing for their daily lives.

Storyjamming roots itself in many great oral traditions. It owes a lot to Flyting, the Scottish poetic contest of boasts and insults. It owes a lot to the story-bards of India, who heal sick cattle with the just right story. Pick the culture, and you’ll find storyjamming occurring somewhere, in some unique form.

We storyjammers see this as the revival of a folk tradition long in need of a dusting off. We’ve just begun to relearn the licks – and we have lots of room in the circle!