Telling True Stories Live
Learning To Tell a True Story
Before a Live Audience
Sayville High School Creative Writing classes in both the fall and spring semesters enjoyed a visit from a very creative guest, Jude Treder-Wolff. Host and creator of (mostly) TRUE THINGS,* a monthly storytelling show located in Port Jefferson, Ms. Treder-Wolff introduced the Sayville students to the idea of writing for a performance venue. She explained that she chose to pattern her showcase after The Moth, the famous international organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. Like The Moth, “the kind of stories we work on at (mostly) TRUE THINGS are much more raw and personal which makes them real, human, and relatable.”
To clear up the frequent misconceptions about what the storytellers are sharing in this kind of performance art, Ms. Treder-Wolff emphasized that there are “distinctions between telling true stories about one's own life and experiences—turning real life into art—and what most people think of as storytelling: folk tales and legends. The folk-tales and legends storytelling world is NOT about personal, lived experiences elevated into a performance-level story,” she continued, “it is about stories handed down over time that get passed on through people performing them.”
During her classroom demonstrations, Ms. Treder-Wolff explained how to structure a real story to make it engaging. She spoke about the 5-beat storytelling framework (The Set-up, The Rising Action, The Climax, The Falling Action, The Resolution or Transformation) that would pace the action and ideas to keep audiences interested. After, she invited students in the class to consider giving it a try.
The success of these classroom experiments actually inspired two Sayville students from Mr. Ed Schmieder’s fall semester classes to make the experience real by participating in an actual (mostly) TRUE THINGS show this winter. The brave volunteers were Sayville High School Freshman Loriann Capra and Junior Allison Pelletier. Each student first worked independently on her individual story before seeking assistance from Ms. Martha Kahan, Student Assistance Counselor at the High School, and Ms. Treder-Wolff for final preparations before the show.
It was exciting to see them perform. “Both students created stories that featured experiences about family,” Ms. Kahan said proudly, “and although each was emotional, the girls were able to use humor as well as vivid imagery to tell their stories. The audience was riveted and fully supported the girls through the process. Their poise and confidence on stage as well as ability to weave a compelling narrative was inspiring.”
Loriann and Allison were so energized by their experiences, they whole-heartedly endorsed the activity and encouraged the spring semester students in Mr. Doug Shaw’s classes to go for it.
“We have at least one student planning to tell a story in the future,” Ms. Kahan announced, “and Ally Pelletier is going to tell another on May 21 in Port Jeff.”
Sayville audiences welcomed!
*(mostly) TRUE THINGS show in Port Jefferson is a monthly storytelling slam, inspired by The Moth, but with a twist. The show features true stories told live without notes. Each show is entirely unique, with completely new stories which are sometimes emotional and poignant, often hilarious and always entertaining. One storyteller tells the unvarnished truth, the other three change a few details that you might pick up by listening closely. The whole truth comes out by the end, with the help of the audience. The show features original songs written for the show and is hosted by creator Jude Treder-Wolff. For performance date, information about the storytellers, and video mash-ups of stories go to: http://www.mostlytruethings.com/