THE FLAME Weekend Workshop:
Your Story Your Voice
The Flame: Your Story Your Voice is about the art of Personal storytelling. “Stories that are true, about you, told in a few.—10 minutes or less.”
"Deb, you are a truly excellent teacher, coach, trainer, person. It is much more than the stories as such; they are completely integral to the person – which is the point, I guess. And that you integrate the person, with all their/our problems, worries, successes, into that coaching – that you are kind, generous, and firm – that is more than talent, that is a gift.
Marylee Stephenson, M. A., Ph.D.
Novice, intermediate and accomplished storytellers grow and challenge themselves. They begin to see their lives as buckets full of stories. All humans are hungry to share and hear personal stories; live storytelling is a partnership. Good storytelling is not easy, but with instructions, listening, and repetition, everyone can do it. And with practice, good storytellers become great.
The Flame Workshop is a joyful, creative, supportive space for participants with the widest range of backgrounds, age, physical and neural diversity, and life experience. What we all have in common is we each have a story to tell and we need to be heard.
The participants arrive with different levels of understanding and skill. Deb quickly determines each student's expectations for personal and artistic growth. Together, they create criteria for “what makes a great story” and begin to listen – a most important and little practiced skill. Students learn to give constructive feedback; Deb practices and models caring critiquing techniques -- clarity, brevity, and kindness. Even online the participants become close to one another and find a safe environment to take risks. Deb encourages the tellers to put aside their fears and dive in. Each member transforms their experience into a remarkable, compelling story. And then they start again. The participants leave the workshop with 1 ½ - 2 polished stories.
The core learning involves storytelling Deb has learned, experienced, used, changed, and compiled over her 28 years of internationally acclaimed personal storytelling. She has taught, coached, and lead over 1000 storytellers onto the Flame stage in the past 13 seasons in Vancouver and afar. These rules involve the foundational elements of storytelling including high stakes, transformational experience, hooks and buttons, detailed setting, fallible narrator, plot, action, first-person present tense, and exploding all the senses. As the weekend evolves Deb adds more challenging tools so storytellers walk away with confidence and a pocketful of tricks (a couple of PDFs) to use for the rest of their storytelling lives.
Deb takes time to analyze the responsibility of the storyteller, the challenges of truth, and memory. She believes storytelling is not about the teller, it's about taking care of the audience, not just listening but hearing. This attitude also makes it easier for the less crowd-comfortable participants; knowing it is simply a human relationship. A good storyteller knows their audience is a smart and successful listener, schooled in narrative and so to entertain we much create an unpredictable journey. Most of all the tellers know why they are motivated to tell the story. This technique is not about being a hero, teaching/preaching, or asking for sympathy.
These stories are not stand-up, TED talk, AA confessions, a list, a rant, an inside joke, a lesson, a cliché, or therapy. The stories are entertaining, self-deprecating, heartfelt, unpredictable, healing, and community forming.
Participants arrive having unique needs and expectations. They leave knowing what elements make an experience ready for a story, skills to craft that story, the ability to share that story in front of a group, and having gained new colleagues and friends.
The workshop is a transformative experience not just for the novice; it is for those who have had long successful communication and performance careers and people who are catatonically shy. The workshop is for people looking for a simple weekend of fun or searching to learn a new art form.
People go away learning more than they expected. Making connections with people they would never have bothered talking to in a buffet line up or bus. Many retake the class over and over, many choose to tell their stories on the Flame stage and other storytelling venues. Many have gone on to create their own professional touring shows, write memoirs, books of poetry, started their own storytelling circles and teach this technique in their mother tongue,
By the end of the program are teen campers, having made intimate friendships ready and able to craft their personal stories and perform. With confidence and self-worth, they leave, listening, observing and seeing their lives as story-filled ventures.