Ever since the time when moving pictures were gaining widespread acclaim at the cinema and, a little while later, on our smartphones via Netflix and other OTT platforms, performance art has tended to be seen as a somewhat elitist form of entertainment. Visiting the theatre is, for most, something of a rare treat as opposed to a typical outing. Without the artist’s necessity to be present at the performance itself, the cinema has the apparent advantage of the ease of convenience and use. As such, it is, simply put, a more affordable day out.
However, the comparatively recent growth of video streaming and catch-up TV has unavoidably impacted cinema attendances, notwithstanding the trend, there has been towards multi-screen, which has created a good deal: more economy and variety in the motion pictures universe.
Although the stage does sometimes like to relish in its rich aura, there are those, conversely, who object to the total sidelining of their art. Given a level playing field, they would suggest, there is a large capacity for a widespread revival of the live arts.
While one would normally associate stage art with acting and theatre, another genre with a similar potential capture for a live audience’s attention is storytelling. The storyteller is a qualified performer whose talent is for evoking robust human responses from a crowd – from tears to laughter, from fear to compassion, from suspense to empathy.
The storyteller recounts the story in the same way that the actor portrays it. He or she is a performer with the capacity to hold on to listeners’ attention and incite the storyline’s dynamic response.
Live-performance storytelling is an acquired art in very much the same sense as is theatre or film acting. Its prophecy is contained in the unique combination of the delivery and the tale. The new bardic collab of the artists involved in tying together the storyline in a way that captivates and enthralls that is the key to its success and accumulates its presently untapped potential.
Suppose storytelling provokes a vision of tiny children all seated attentively on the floor around their teacher, who is reading calmly from a book or recounting a tale from memory. In that case, it does not necessitate a tremendous imaginative excursion to move on from this vision to one in which it is the adults who are being occupied, with famed tales from tradition and history infused from time to time with conspicuously adult themes.