The Origin Story
So, maybe I should back up, really delve into "what is storyshowing?"
A long, long time ago, in an universe far, far away, in some expected tumbling manner of a five year old, I ended up on my family's then kitchen floor and began to flop around like, you guessed it, a fish. To be exact, I was a salmon swimming upstream. Through, a series of sputters and heavy breathing, I let my parents, who were walking through the kitchen momentarily, know this immediately, with full details on my success as I breached the rocky ridges of the waterfalls. Sure, I could plug in here that I was on a sugar rush or maybe this was just before bedtime, a scientifically proven hour of increased activity in young children. But, in all honesty, I simply aspired to look just like a salmon moving against gallons and gallons of water. Well, mission accomplished. My parents still refer to this achievement as their proudest moment of me.
Naturally, from that development, I became jungle creatures, monkey and bird-like animals that moved swiftly from sofa to sofa, calling out across the terrain with Jurrassic Park squawks. In hindsight, I can easily say that most kids go through a loud, imaginative period where everything is fair game, even Dad's office. But what I was experiencing with my voice, exploring new pitches and testing my range, continued well beyond my adoration of the animal kingdom.
Growing up, my family didn't have cable television. We watched the nature channel our TV's bunny ears would pick up through PBS (which probably enhanced the call of the wild), but when my parents decided to push a VHS into the tape player, I was instantly hooked. Animated or live action features, it didn't matter. My thoughts would bounce excitedly through my mind: Look at the array of characters! See how her voice matches what she looks like! Watch how he moves!
As this inner dialogue and push to understand on-screen/voice-over acting was occuring, I was being continously introduced to the realm of traditional Southwest Virginian tall tale storytelling. When I was eight, my mother and I told a tandem telling of an old Jack tale to my peers at my elementary school. I love hearing my mother storytell, and I will forever aspire to match the enticing cadence of her voice and her incredible articulation. But I will never forget the feeling of being entirely wrapped up, deep inside the story that I couldn't tell you which way was North if you handed me a compass. I wasn't the audience watching, listening entralled. I was the teller, completely convinced of my own telling. That was the start of something very important.
Over the next several years, while listening to my family storytell and watching the feature films, my sense of story was gradually being honed. I was finding patterns, character development, and overall plot construct of what makes a climactic oral tale. So, I started writing down these strings of potential stories in composition notebooks (inspiration sited from "Harriett the Spy"). My favorite part of writing anything down was the moment I first read it outloud to myself.
And there, my friends, is where the origin of storyshowing finds it true beginning, because as I not only read my pieces outloud to myself, I acted them out, pantomiming and gesturing through each scene. I became the story, wrapping myself up with the thick layers of words and emotions, and expressing it as if it was all I had ever known.
So, many years later, as I stood infront of (once again) a group of my school peers and instructors, this time at Hollins University during my graduate career, and told my original story, "Princess in Peril," the visiting author David Almond looked up at me and quietly said, "This is not storytelling. You are storyshowing."
As he named it, the many important moments of my imaginative life gently aligned.