Last week, I performed in a storytelling show at the Cupcake Theater in the heart of Hollywood.
Seven different women got up on a stage and told seven different stories – some funny, some heartbreaking, all true.
Last month, my husband and I attended a storytelling show at the Getty Villa in Malibu, where master storytellers told classical myths to a rapt audience – as though we were all back in ancient Greece, sitting under the stars, listening to the tales of our creation.
These two events reminded me of why we tell stories, written or spoken. It’s not to sell books or movies. It’s not to finally use all those fancy SAT vocabulary words. It’s not to write beautiful sentences or really, really, really profound metaphors. It’s also not JUST to entertain (although I’ll admit that’s a fundamental goal of mine).
People tell stories to connect – on a human level – to each other. Perhaps writer Paulo Coelho said it best: “Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.”
And – I would like to add, Paolo – emotions.
At the Getty Villa, Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden told stories about gods and goddesses – and yet, they were very human stories about love, jealousy, power, revenge, and forgiveness.
At my show (graduation night for a storytelling class at The Writing Pad), performers shared tales of heartbreak, regret, loneliness, fear, inadequacy, and despair. And just like life, those same stories were also filled with hope, joy, laughter, and love. I think all of the storytellers and everyone in the audience left that theater feeling more connected to each other and to the human experience.
And isn’t that the point of every story we tell? To make us all feel a little bit less alone in the world.
I highly recommend trying a bit of storytelling yourself – whether you are a writer or not. It will teach you how to express yourself, find your voice, and hold the attention of an audience (there is nothing quite like being in a dark room with bright lights and a crowd of people waiting for you to tell them a good story to force you to do something worth watching). But it will also teach you that the only thing that really matters is sharing a bit of yourself.
Go. Tell a story. It might just make you a better writer – and a better person.