Sunday, February 15, 2015

Invisible Worlds

I think often of an encounter I had several years ago in Poland. I was sitting at a well-worn kitchen table with an anthropologist whose work was in the field with different African tribes. When he heard I was a storyteller he lit up. "It's good that you still exist!" he said. "You bring us to the invisible worlds."

'WORLDS,' he said. Not just ONE invisible world. It did me good to hear this because when working with different types of stories I have seen that they have different qualities, rules and access points. FAIRYTALES- share their boundary with DREAMS, the landscape of our nights. Both of them utilize archetypal symbols, bizarre juxtapositions with a logic all their own and -held on high- the banner of the life and death struggle of the soul to be born.  MYTHS- remain rooted in the cultures that created them. They receive their stamp of authenticity from those people and are tethered to the "in the beginning time" of the world, with its bold characters that leave an imprint on all that we see. When we tell a PERSONAL STORY, we bring on our breath an invisible world peopled by the ghosts of our MEMORIES. And for a completely ORIGINAL TALE storytellers must build their own invisible habitation from whatever bits and scraps they can find until it is TRUE and the story feels JUST RIGHT.

INVISIBLE WORLDS.... Yes it is a storyteller's work to source them and we are in competition with a lot of modern day imposters. Video games have taken these potent archaic symbols and harnessed them to a Sisyphean narrative of endlessly repeating encounters with no real transformation possible. Disney cannot put us in touch with the invisible worlds. Everything it presents is completely visualized and encoded in two dimensional film, forever colorized and controlled.

Fortunately, storytellers do not have the same aim as the entertainment world. For us it is not even a matter of trying to make the unseen SEEN, it is about making it PRESENT and palpable in the space. We bring the old stories not to forget ourselves or to make our audience forget where they are, but to remember there are other worlds beyond.