Festivals & Conferences of Storytelling (but of Story Slams?)



[Top photograph is from the 2012 Beyond the Border Wales International Storytelling Festival, showing just one of the dozen concert venues throughout the St. Donats Castle grounds. I had the delight of performing shows there that year. WONDERFUL storytelling festival!]

Think about it…

Two or more solid days – no really, think about it: two or more solid days – of nuthin’ but…5-minute first-person true-life narratives told by a random selection of sincere people who may or may not have any stage experience…Two solid days of it…

I could be wrong, but I don’t think it would fly.

A story slam is such a wham-bam, high-energy, both potentially-intense-and-potentially-scattered event…a focused and limited amount of time seems an appropriate way to go rather than an event of, say, two full days.  (So, a 2-hour evening event is great – to give a common slam-schedule example.)

Storytelling in general (“traditional storytelling”), however, is such a vast, rich, deep and multi-layered universe of kinds and styles and genres and expressions of story – that it is easy to fill a full-day or multi-day time period with offerings and aspects of storytelling!

Voila! Storytelling festivals and conferences!

Festivals vs. Conferences – What’s the difference?

Strong StanceWhile there may be blurry lines and crossover, the terms generally mean:

Storytelling Festival – an event that offers and celebrates a variety of storytelling performances. Can range from one evening’s concert to a several-day event. A festival will almost by definition have several storytellers (though it’s possible, I suppose, for just one storyteller to be performing at a small festival/celebration) – and depending on the length and scope of it, there may be very many tellers! While sometimes workshops/classes may be part of a festival, the emphasis is on performance of the art of storytelling.

Storytelling Conference – an event that may well include (in my opinion, it better include!) some storytelling performance, but much time and emphasis is given to workshops and learning opportunities for conference-goers.

There are national, international, regional, local, and organizational storytelling festivals and conferences.

Go ahead and google: look up your state’s or area’s storytelling organization(s); check out the National Storytelling Network’s calendar (not a complete listing, as it is up to the myriad events/members to initiate getting on NSN’s calendar – but it’s a good place to start).

A storytelling festival and/or conference can be one of the richest, most nourishing experiences you can give yourself (regardless of whether you self-identify as “a storyteller” or not).

The possibilities are endless as to what may be experienced… Legends, myths, folk tales, ghost stories, fairy tales, history, sacred stories, and yes, personal narratives – Stories from the vast array of human experience and community and culture!

Which brings me back to imagining a whole-day-plus of just story-slam-style storytelling…

I think no. I don’t think it would fly, in that it would be just too much – too much of the rather rapid-fire, “focused-on-me” (the teller) kind of slam storytelling – that can work wonderfully in its usual shorter, limited time-frame.

In this April A-Z blog series I’m comparing and contrasting story slams and traditional storytelling…It seems that “festivals” and “conferences” are one of the characteristic expressions of traditional storytelling that marks a distance between the two.

dessertcHowever, story slams are often now included in storytelling festivals and conferences. A fun, vibrant part of the larger event!

Makes me think of dessert vs. a whole meal.

Dessert is fine and fun and yummy and yes can even be nutritious. But the combination of all the varied nutrients and textures and flavors of the wider variety of foods found in a well-prepared, well-balanced meal is more filling and vibrant and ultimately satisfying.

Varied, well-prepared and well-balanced storytelling festivals and conference are super-satisfying!  I hope you get to one soon!

Thanks for reading – Pam

[Theme for this A-Z April Daily Blogging Challenge: “Story Slams & Traditional Storytelling – Bridging the Distance”]

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A very few of the very many upcoming storytelling events:


[Cake image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net / Kebab image courtesy of Naito8 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]