The NSN Summit Program Committee has put together an incredible line up of workshops and events for this year’s Summit! The 2019 National Storytelling Summit schedule is listed below. We’re very excited to announce the addition of a special screening of the critically acclaimed animated African tale “Liyana” to the 2019 Summit!

Schedule is subject to change

The Magic of Podcasts

with Anna Sussman

This class examines each of the ingredients needed to create a superlative narrative style podcast. What kinds of stories are told best via podcast? How can we blend writing, interview, and sound to a create dynamic, compelling story? How can we best enhance the experience of being alone with someone else’s voice in your headphones?

Podcasts traffic in empathy and emotionality. This master class will teach techniques for capitalizing on the medium’s strengths. We will discuss how to find and produce powerful stories from a broad spectrum of human experiences, and how to enable people from a diverse range of backgrounds to tell their own stories.

After a quick introduction to the medium and the industry, this class will break down the three basic elements of strong podcast storytelling: interviewing for a story, writing for the ear, and using verité.

This class will include careful listening and dissection of some of the most compelling podcast stories in the narrative genre, analysis of masterful and less masterful podcast scripts, and strategies for successful podcast story finding, mapping, and planning.

The workshop includes:

  • Podcast interview exercises
  • Podcast pitch activities
  • Story mapping techniques
  • Sound gathering strategies

Anna Sussman is the Managing Editor and Senior Producer of WNYC’s Snap Judgment, a weekly radio program and podcast airing on over 400 NPR stations nationally. She teaches the Advanced Radio class at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She has reported on the ground from 15 countries and also plays the banjo.

Personal Storytelling

with George Dawes Green, the founder of the Moth

Each participant will come prepared with a three-minute story that is personal and somewhat self-
challenging. We will explore the essential workings of personal storytelling focusing on the moment of
decision, using “buried treasure” hearing your own personal voice, the power of authenticity, finding the revelatory detail, and making personal stakes universal. Throughout the master class participants
will prepare and share a one-minute and three-minute story to each other, with time to discuss and re-

The Griot’s Gift: An Ancient Model for Contemporary Tellers

with Charlotte Blake Alston

Charlotte’s journey as a storyteller has been inspired and framed by the tradition of the West African Griot or Jali. But Griot is a term that is sometimes used loosely among storytellers in the US.  Yet, this century-old West African oral tradition remains an applicable model for how storytellers have historically been situated in – and of service to – their communities. Historian, musician, teacher, genealogist, translator, mediator and more, this ancient but comprehensive “job description” is a storyteller-nutrient-rich well we can continue to draw from as we navigate our role in today’s contemporary cultural and political landscape. For dedication to the art, training, effectiveness, service, and relevance to the community, there is no better model. We’ll…

  • Examine the primary and multi-faceted role of these oral historians both men and women (griottes/jalimuso) and their relationships with their respective family and community groups.
  • Reflect upon, identify and articulate our individual sense of our role as storyteller in our communities – now.
  • Identify where aspects of the jali’s role intersect with our individual and collective paths and goals.
  • Identify needs/issues in your community the storyteller or storytelling might effectively address.
  • Claim and renew our commitment to our role, our work, our mission, our communities.

Building Blocks of Revolutionary Theater

with Marie Cartier

The San Francisco Mime Troupe has been creating theater that pushes boundaries, challenges power structures and fights for justice for the last 60 years. An introduction to the Mime Troupe’s mission and style, this highly interactive workshop will consist of a series of exercises designed to help generate and structure ideas for performance that addresses political and social issues. Participants will be asked to work collectively and in small groups. Including improvisation, Commedia Dell’Arte, tableau, and games derived from Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, we will take the topics that most concern YOU and see how we can address them through storytelling and theater.

Marie Cartier is a collective member and teaching artist with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, America’s premier political theater company.

Marie Cartier is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised, living and working in San Francisco. A trained actor, her work in theater also spans everything from light and sound operation to props design, education, and writing. As a newly-minted collective member at the San Francisco Mime Troupe, she serves as co-artistic director and helps with day to day operations of the company. Marie completed the Artist in Residence program at SFMT by creating the original show Yesterday is Tomorrow with her sister Genie. She has co-produced and written scripts for 2017 and 2018’s productions Saturnalia: A Raunchy Circus Christmas with Bow & Arrow Circus Theater Collective. Additionally, her short play, The View From Here, was featured in Three Girls Theater’s Bursting the Bubble staged reading series. Marie works as a teaching artist with the Mime Troupe’s Youth Theater Project and NCTC’s Drama Explorer. She holds BA’s in Theater and Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley.

About the San Francisco Mime Troupe
Founded in 1959, the San Francisco Mime Troupe does not do silent pantomime. We mean ‘mime’ in the ancient sense: to mimic. We talk, we sing, we make a lot of noise. We are satirists, seeking to make you laugh at the absurdities of contemporary life and at the same time, see their causes. We’ve done shows about most of the burning issues of our time, generally shows that debunked the official story. We perform everywhere from public parks to palaces of culture, aiming to reach the broadest possible audience. Come see us in a park near you, summer 2019!

The Essence of Personal Storytelling

with George Dawes Green, founder of The Moth

What’s inspired the recent explosive rise in personal storytelling? Why do we find these tales so compelling? My talk will address new research into the
neuroscientific basis of storytelling; homo sapiens as the storytelling animal. I’ll look at the rise of the personal vision in art since the late fifteenth century (the near simultaneous development of the soliloquy in English drama and the aria in Italian music; the popularity of the first-person novel in the eighteenth century; the ‘confessional’ monologues of Spaulding Gray). I’ll talk about my inspiration for creating the Moth, our epoch’s particular craving for the personal and authentic, and the powerful pull of unscripted first-person stories. I’ll show videos of one-minute stories by some of our outstanding Moth raconteurs, and work with the audience to tease out the underlying principles of the raconteur’s art.

The Middle of the Middle of Us

with Charlotte Blake Alston

People Lover, Word Weaver, Storyteller, and self-described “God’s Fool” – Brother Blue (the late Hugh Morgan Hill) declared that his stories were told “from the middle of the middle of me, to the middle of the middle of you”. This community reflects the heart and soul of storytelling’s presence and visibility on the American cultural landscape. We have been at the middle of storytelling advocacy for decades, finding ourselves repeatedly challenged to define and justify not just the art form but its legitimacy as well. We are in schools, universities, theaters, museums, detention centers and corporate environments. Story practitioners are in the middle of innovative collaborations with scientific and mental health communities including NASA and NIH. Yet, as a group, we are graying with few young’uns following in our traditional teller footsteps and after 29 years of performing full-time, I still get the question: “Now, what is it you say you do?”

Storyteller, NSN and NABS member, Charlotte Blake Alston will take a moment to acknowledge, affirm – yea, even unapologetically celebrate – the range and depth of our collective work, but also consider questions about the future of storytelling – and perhaps more importantly, the NOW of storytelling. Is there a definitive ‘role’ we serve – or should serve? Are we visible enough in our respective communities outside of festival stages? Is there a place for us in the middle of today’s predominant socio-political narratives? Does what we do still have relevance in today’s artistic, cultural and political climate? Is the question of relevancy even a relevant question? She’ll speak from the middle of her middle.

Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, five orphaned children from Eswatini collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, Liyana, is brought to life in innovative animated artwork as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell – in fiction and in their own lives.

This genre-defying film weaves an original animated hero’s journey with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance. LIYANA is a tribute to creativity, the strength of the human spirit, and the healing power storytelling.

Critically acclaimed, and executive produced by award-winning actress, Thandie Newton, LIYANA has won more than 30 jury and audience awards and screened at more than 100 film festivals around the world including the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival and MoMA’s Doc Fortnight.