National Storytelling Conference
2014 Conference Workshops


Included with full conference registration • All programs subject to change.



Session A • Friday, July 25


Ritual Musical Instruments – The Divination and Healing Arts of Central Africa

Manuel Jordán - Musical Instrument Museum chief curator

Join chief curator of Phoenix's renowned Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), Manuel Jordán, as he highlights the use of a variety of musical instruments in the context of divination and healing among Central African peoples. Jordán will illustrate how music and musical instruments become strategic devices in the process of redressing illness and misfortune. Learn how a diviner and/or healer aims to create order out of disorder and, through the use of divination and musical instruments, has the ability to identify an agent of misfortune and recommend actions toward resolution of afflictions.


Appreciative Inquiry Illuminates Vibrant Organizational Storytelling

Tom Sparough & Geralyn Hoxsey Sparough
Appreciative Inquiry is an organizational change methodology.  Based on the work of Professor David Cooperrider of Case Western Reserve University, AI focuses an organization on its strengths, rather than its deficits. It lights the path to a brighter future. When looking for its strengths, storytelling is a key gathering tool that illuminates a stronger, more vibrant future. This session will give participants a chance to experience this innovative storytelling approach of strength building.


People Who Made a Difference: Stories of Fire and Light

Kate Dudding
True stories about people who have made a difference are filled with fire (their passions) and light (their triumphs.) They are stories your listeners need to remember. These stories concentrate on the people, not on the frequently dull historical facts and figures, nor on their famous persona.  Learn how to find inspiring historical people, research their lives, and create memorable stories about them.  Includes exercises, example stories and a handout.  For intermediate/advanced tellers.

The Prism of Performance: Bringing Light and Color to the Stage

Elaine Muray
Come learn the ive facets of performance structure  important to engaging audiences, creating memorable performances, and improving spontaniety: 1) use and command of space, 2) physicality; 3)vocal quality; 4) props as story characters; 5)transitions. Through hands on exercises and a sampling from attendees’ stories, attendees will learn how to use these tools to create character, a sense of place and time, and enhance performer connection with the audience.



Session B • Friday, July 25


Interfaith Interplay: Sharing the Fire and Light of Sacred Stories

Pam Faro
Whether you already tell stories for spiritual or interfaith gatherings, or wish to – or never do! –there is a unique and powerful impact possible in the sharing of such stories. Colorado storyteller Pam Faro has long experience and deep passion for interfaith storytelling: come explore with her the whats, wheres, hows and whys of intentionally sharing stories from across spiritual traditions.  It can help heal brokenness in our world – and be loads of fun, too!


Building the Dry-Land Ship: Storytelling as Imaginative Transportation

Joseph Sobol
Storytelling is a vehicle of imaginative transportation.  The common elements of language and ritual that signal initiation of a storytelling event are all designed, at deep neuro-linguistic levels, to start a process of being borne again: away from the here-and-now and into the once-upon-a time.  This may feel like magic, but it is also an empirical process with well-defined rules and techniques.  Coming to understand these elements will help us illuminate our art for others.


Branding: It Doesn’t Have to Hurt!

Karen Chace & Simon Brooks
"Steer" the audience to you. It doesn't hurt to be branded; in fact, it might hurt your business if you’re not. Branding will help your image, professionalism and visibility. Build strength and trust with potential clients; define your personal and business persona. Discover how to subtly create awareness and recognition with your client base and become memorable! Laptops encouraged but not necessary.


Springboards for Stories

Jackson Gillman
Are you sitting on some goldmine stories that haven’t yet been brought to light? Sometimes, it’s not until we recount an incident that we realize its potential for repertoire.  Examples of simple events turned into performance pieces will be modeled. Group exercises with “listener as co-creator” will prompt participants to mine their own personal nuggets worthy of polishing. We’ll explore the process of crafting material from real life experiences, whether they be dramatic or commonplace. (Intensive)



Session C • Friday, July 24


No Moth? No problem: Developing new audiences, voices and venues

Megan Finnerty, Marilyn Omifunke Torres, & Liz Warren
How can you get in on some of storytelling’s current cachet if there’s no Moth or Risk! in your town? Just start your own night.  In this super-practical workshop, we’ll outline the partnerships, strategies and best practices you’ll need to launch a series, from venue acquisition and promotions to story curation and event management.  Develop the next generation of storytelling devotees by taking the craft to new audiences in new places in your area.


Learning to Listen So Others Can Hear You

Lauretta Phillips
Storytellers like to talk and want to be heard yet many do not know how to really listen. Learning to listen to others will help us connect with our audience and open hearts and minds to bring our stories to light and make them shine. Listening to others is a special skill.  This workshop will give you the techniques to hear what others need and help your stories shine in the minds of your audience.


Storytelling: The Fire in Great Teaching

Regina Ress
From Language and Literacy to Science and Social Studies, the use of storytelling lights up lessons, sparks discussion, and illuminates meaning.  Storytelling engages participants of all ages seamlessly and deeply in the subject at hand. The highly experiential nature of this workshop will give the participants take-away activities they will remember and be able to use immediately to heat up their teaching no matter the subject or situation.



Session D • Saturday, July 26


Out of the Tunnel and Into the Light of Peace

Liz Weir
Storytelling can play a vital role in promoting understanding between people of different faiths, nationalities and abilities. This workshop will examine practical ways in which communities can engage in the sharing of stories which are held by the individuals within them. Based on peace-building storytelling projects which have taken place in Northern Ireland during the conflict and in the post-conflict years, the lessons learned can be replicated in many other communities worldwide. (Partially sponsored by a grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.)


From the Embers: Creating performance pieces from written texts

Ruth Stotter

Using methodology from a toolbox of storytelling techniques we will rekindle these frozen-in-print literary and published folktales tales for oral presentations. Avoid rote delivery and add excitement so tales continue to sound fresh when told and re-told and told again. Highly participative.


Publish (and Profit With) Your Non-Fiction Book

Sean Buvala
Your own non-fiction book is your new business card.  Your book will create opportunities, secure contracts and spark new relationships in your specialized niches as a storyteller.  Please understand that this isn’t about 1970’s photocopied “books” or vanity-press nonsense.  We’ll explore the methods, challenges and rewards of contemporary self-publishing.  You’ll leave this workshop with your ten-week plan to get your book from idea to reality.


Folktales, Fables, Myths & More: Traditional Literature in Common Core

Mary Hamilton
Don’t ignore K – 8 English Language Arts Common Core Standards. Embrace them by being a well-informed in-school storyteller. First, increase your understanding of such terms as “traditional literature,” “fable,” “myth,” and “legend” through information from the disciplines of folklore and children’s literature. Then, engage in hands-on, easily duplicated, classroom friendly activities using traditional literature. Following each activity we will examine how the activity can help students meet Common Core Standards.


Session E • Saturday, July 26


It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, NO…it’s Superteller!

Rivka Willick
Storytellers can light up their performances by embracing many stylistic elements from comics. This is one of the places modern folklore thrives. Learning to use the language, energy, and comedy of graphic novels will attract kids, teen, and adult audiences. So...Flame On!


Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Stories about Difference

Delanna Reed
Do you have a burning desire to bring injustice to light? Do you envision a harmonious world where diverse cultures, abilities, and lifestyles are welcomed instead of feared? If so, join me in this innovative presentation about gathering personal stories from marginalized peoples and shaping them into a transformational performance. Come learn from my process of collecting and telling the stories of lesbian teachers, and apply it your own social justice storytelling project.


Creating Personal Stories: From Cloud to Lightning

Doug Lipman
A meaningful but unshaped episode in your life is like an electrically charged cloud: full of energy, but with no path to powerful expression. In this workshop, you'll learn how to find a "lightning rod" that allows the episode's energy to flow like a lightning bolt’s, releasing fire and light. I'll give examples, explain this technique, and give you a chance to apply this technique to an example episode I will provide.


A Language Older than Words: Using Music in Storytelling

Rachel Nelson
Explore ways music can strengthen your stories, adding spark, deeper layers, and audience connection.    Together we'll research using music in story from both teller's and listener's perspective.  Using pair work, fishbowl coaching, group reflection, and short performance demonstrations, we'll examine how pulse rhythms, musical underscoring, repeated melodic riffs, and sung story refrains can invite listeners to walk into our story. Bring your voice, instrument(s) if you wish, and a story idea to experiment with.



Session F • Saturday, July 26


Pirates in Pajamas: Lighting the Fire of Stories at Home

Steffani Raff
Stories spark the flame that warms the hearth at home. How can families with over-scheduled calendars and ever-present electronics connect with their children through story? Steffani Raff, mother of five, has developed a step-by-step process for creating personalized stories. You will learn innovative imaging techniques to create sensory rich settings, engaging characters (with surprising resemblance to your child), take the bullet-proof structure of folktales to create an instant plot, and leave with an original story.


Bringing Old Tales to Light: Long-Form Traditional Stories

Priscilla Howe
There’s gold in them thar hills! That is, there are wonderful old stories ready to be mined from traditional material, for those intrepid enough to search for and then tell them. In this workshop on long-form traditional storytelling, we’ll look at—and play with—finding, choosing, researching, preparing and telling stories of epic proportions, the mother lode of modern storytelling.


Imagine That!  Games Storytellers Play

Pat Nease
Einstein stated that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  It is also key for infusing fire and light into our storytelling and story writing.  Have fun while expanding your skills with these easy, non-threatening, laughter-filled games that hone listening, speaking, voice, empathy, creativity, presentation, and imagination.  The included activities are appropriate for a variety of skill levels, groups both large and small, and ages kindergarten to adult.


The Next Website - Open Discussion

Moderators: NSN Board Members Steven Henegar & Molly Catron

NSN is creating a new website in conjunction with our move to Kansas City. We need your guidance to further explore how the new site can provide support for you as members, for our organization, and for storytelling generally. What do you need? How you can help.



Session G • Sunday, July 27


So You Want to Give a TED or TEDx Talk?

Marilyn McPhie
"Ideas worth spreading?"  You know you want to do a TED talk, so explore the possibilities. Marilyn has given a TEDx talk on storytelling, presented at a TEDx salon, and helped organize a TEDx event.   She'll share her own experiences as well as the  experiences and advice of several TEDx talkers from the storytelling community.  Process?  Invitation?  Audition?  Preparation?  Subject? Results/Benefits? Cautions?  Suggestions?  Handouts/links provided.  Time for Q & A.

Touched by Fire, Igniting the Flames of Healing

Terry Foxx
Wildfire is becoming a common occurrence in the West.  Telling the story of experiences with evacuation, landscape loss, and personal loss is an essential part of the recovery of a community after a disaster.  Join this workshop led by someone who has experienced the community impacted by wildfire.  We will discuss the elements of healing stories and how to get adults and children to tell these stories.


Performing Community: Youth, Storytelling and Playbuilding

Caleb Winebrenner
Explore how storytelling can be approached as a community asset. Situating storytelling within a framework for Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), we will see how storytelling in various forms can offer robust possibilities for youth engagement, civic dialogue, and community building efforts. Participants will leave with a framework for implementing story in these settings, along with games, activities, and group conversation starters to facilitate the process.


Edge of Tomorrow: discussion group

Moderators: Yvonne Healy, Kate Lutz & Joyce Slater.

What do you think? What do you want to know? How do you want to help? Interesting opportunities abound as NSN explores the transition to Kansas City. Join this moderated discussion to share your ideas and hear from others.