two storytellers successfully perform a story together, the audience is
in for a special treat. The different characters in the story are actually
portrayed by different voices and personalities and the story is enriched
by the variety. This Tandem Telling, however, carries its own set of challenges.
When done well, it offers a rewarding experience for both tellers and
listeners. Done poorly, it offers a frustrating experience for all.
Choose stories to be told in tandem with a great deal of consideration. First and foremost, both tellers must love the story. As Ive mentioned many times before, never tell a story you dont love. There is no way to engage an audiences thorough enjoyment of a story that you dont particularly like. And, remember, working with another will involve much more preparation than working solo, so you both have to like the story well enough to commit to extra preparation. Also, you must consider the actual story. Certain stories lend themselves better to tandem telling. There are many husband and wife stories, stories about two animal friends, or two people who are acquaintances who meet and interact, all of which work well for tandem storytelling. Some tandem tellers create special stories to fit their individual personalities while others look to the many folktales that are available. Some do both.
Commit to the extra time needed for successful preparation. I have experienced tandem telling that hadnt received the proper amount of preparation, and it is not a pretty sight. When two people are working together, no matter how well they feel they know the material, the timing and cueing must be perfect. This takes a great deal of pre-planning, pre-practicing, and being prepared for any unforeseen happenings or slip-ups. Make sure that each knows his or her part to perfection and what you will do if you forget a section. A solo storyteller can always say something like, Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention but it is a little rougher with two tellers.
Commit to each other and decide who will take the lead. I already mentioned getting along with each other, but it is also important to make prior decisions about which one will do the introductions, which will answer questions, and which one will take the lead in the different stories to be included in the program. I have attended wonderful performances where the tandem tellers take turns, and also dont always tell together. One will perform a story while the other stays off to the side listening and/or accompanying the current teller with an instrument of some sort. I should mention here how important it is for both tellers to not only enjoy the stories they are telling together, but to also enjoy each other and each others performance. Pure enjoyment is obvious and when tellers exhibit joy in what they are doing and doing together, it just adds to the whole audiences enthusiasm with the program and the tellers.
Embrace the challenges and advantages of tandem storytelling and have fun! You have probably realized by now, that tandem telling can present challenges, but it also affords the advantages of working with another person and having another person there for the bouncing off of ideas and coaching each other. It is important to lighten up and have the extra special fun of working together. Make sure you can laugh at yourself and each other.
Try it, youll like it! Find another storyteller you admire and prepare to tell together for fun. You will discover a whole new world of storytelling Tandem Telling.
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