On Saturday, March 29th 2008, the lights went out. Not in a bad way, but deliberately, people turned off at least some of their lights, at least some of their gadgets, just to see what would happen. Even the Google website changed on that day, turning dark to celebrate the event. In some places, there were events to get people out of the house, to keep them from electrical temptations.
In our community, at least, this event was perfect for storytelling. The weather was cool but not uncomfortable, and folks came out to hear music and stories, watch dancers and drummers, all without turning on a TV or an iPod. This was the first time our city had participated, and so there were a few technical glitches, and no one knew how many people would show up, but I had close to a hundred for the storytelling, which went fairly well. The challenge was to find things which fit the evening's ecological theme, but also to entertain folks who had lost touch with storytelling. A second challenge was that I was to be followed by a Taiko drum group. So, I used a South African folktale about water shortage and drought, and followed with The Boy Who Drew Cats, from Japan. The crowd, mostly adults with a sprinkling of kids, seemed to enjoy things, and quite a few came up to talk to me later in the evening.
This kind of event is a perfect place to introduce "new" audiences to the art of storytelling. Here, we had "the big three," because we had traditional music, a really cool dance troupe, and storytelling. Maybe your community had such an event, but didn't think to include storytelling. Maybe your community didn't have an event this year, because nobody got around to causing one to happen.
So, next year, find an event, or make one happen. Make SURE that storytelling is included. This is the kind of investment in audience development, karma and the future of storytelling that we shouldn't ignore. It was a great chance to remind people what storytelling is all about.