What is storytelling?

Also known as oral narration, storytelling is considered a form of folklore.

Long ago, stories were told to adults, however over time storytelling, for instance, fairy tales, has become reserved solely for children, yet nowadays we are seeing that stories and storytelling have an important role in both the lives of the young and the old.

Furthermore, storytelling is being studied and used in communications, the media, therapy, folklore, anthropology and so on.

But what is storytelling?

Storytelling is a performance in which we present a fairy tale, a story, an anecdote, a personal story or a certain sequence of events directly in front of an audience.

Storytellers are able to learn a text off by heart, however, the familiarisation and presentation of a certain series of situations – means knowing how to convey the story!

It means that the storyteller doesn’t just learn the story by heart, but also by using phrases, gestures, expressions and a rhythm… which they know and use in their performance.

This is why every performance is unique and the same story or fairy tale is never narrated in the same way twice.

The simple conclusion is that the narration comes directly from the storyteller and that it is part of them.

The story flows from the soul of the storyteller to the souls of the listeners. And although the primary means of communications is the spoken word – storytelling is a synthetic activity and can take place on (and most frequently does) many or all sensory levels.

Each listener experiences a story in their own personal way, and so storytelling is first and foremost an activity which imbues optimism and which affirms life – the encouragement of closeness, the acquisition of knowledge, and maturity.

A mother once asked her child who had been just attended a storytelling “Did the storyteller read stories from a book? Or did she read them from memory?” – her child replied, “She told them from within herself.”

photo: D. Blažević

(Parts of this text have been taken from the magazine of social and cultural events Zarez)

(Translation by Martin Mayhew)