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The Folk Tale

As I have written these posts and gathered them into book form I have taken care not to research from the Toastmaster manuals. I read them a few years ago when I was working on the projects, but I have not re-read them for the Story Solver articles.

At this point, with both projects very close to completion, I have re-read the Toastmasters Advanced Communication and Leadership Series “Storytelling” manual. I’ll share my thoughts on each of the projects. These are in addition to what you can read in the manual and are in no way intended to refocus your approach to these projects.

The Folk Tale

I notice that the manual includes tales often considered to be fairy tales in addition to folk tales. Sometimes we blur the definitions and even include fables.

To me the choice of tale in this project should be one you enjoy and feel connected to.¬† For me it had to be a Robin Hood story because that’s the part of the world I come from. Someone from the US might choose a Brer Rabbit story and a Dane might choose a Hans Anderson tale. This is only one way of choosing but it certainly gives a deeper connection to your telling of the story.

You might choose a story because you feel connected to the main character – let’s say Cinderella if you felt your family was unsympathetic and not supportive. You could select the tale because you relish the particular drama¬† – think of the evil and vanity you could put into “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”. Whatever the personal connection it will help you bring the story to life.

You don’t have to stick with traditional tales of your own culture. You could look for a tale told by native people in your area of North America or Australia. You could find one of the African folk tales from Nelson Mandela’s book. You could choose one of the amazing Jewish folk tales. Think of the creation myths from different cultures.

The pleasure of doing this research lies in discovering how different cultures explain their world and teach the younger generation what they feel is important for people of that culture to know. Somewhere in your research you will find a tale that really resonates with you.

Try to understand what makes it resonate, what the point of the story is for you, where the emotion, humour and delight lie. Try to make it a part of yourself, with a phrasing and rhythm that feels right to you. Imagine the telling of the story hundreds of years ago – a bard in the firelight rousing warriors; a tribal elder gently, hypnotically passing along the wisdom of generations; a mother in a thatched hut entertaining a fretful child.

What tales the world has to tell! Dip into the treasure chest and find yours.

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