Spanish / Catalan / Galician / Basque

 

Oral narration can become a significant vector for the re-establishment of democracy for three main reasons:

1.- DUE TO ITS CONTENT, as stories speak about the human condition: 

Traditional stories cover all issues connected with the individual as a member of society. They also deal with huge questions regarding existence in matters relating to the key to the mystery of life, but without the blunt, realist explanations. Through symbolism they connect dreams and poetry through a truly emancipated link, from both the point of view of freedom of imagination, and in an understanding of a person's psychological development mechanisms. Optimism is obligatory: Children can change their destinies by learning what is good for them and what they should avoid. 

Whether we are storytellers or listeners, we can and should develop a vision of the world based on solidarity, courage, and a view to the future. In this way an approach to the story can come about for the individual based on their own reading in an enjoyable, emotional way.  As the grioti from Mali, Hampâté Bâ said: Stories entertain the children; adults can relax after a day's work and the grey-haired ones can philosophize. In other words, stories can unite the three parts which live together within us,   the affective, the playful, and the cognitive.

2. DUE TO ITS FORM, the story is an engine driving thought:   

Narrative, scenic and dramatic construction is a formidable springboard for the spectator, who follows in a cathartic manner the efforts and trials of the hero, keeping a comfortable, humorous distance in the dramatization.   In this way the material of the words allows for a multitude of interpretations, asides and individual free associations, within a type of creative misunderstanding.  We can follow stories together, with each person on their own road. 

Oral narration responds to a simple, effective construction, of a clearly-defined problem, followed by a string of consequences, which leads to a transformation. 

We realize that the human brain possesses a tremendous multi-sensory capacity to synthesize information when it is developed in a narrative; a situation with a character, the development of a search, changing fortunes and twists, a conclusion.  From this point of view, the liberal United States Storytelling is not wrong when it uses narrative forms to tell stories (literally and figuratively) in advertising and politics, with the aim of subjecting the public-consumers to the dictatorship of a fictitious project of "living together". 

If the stories can adopt different forms depending on whether they are defined as wonderful, ingenious, multi-part, legend, epic or myth; the  presentation induces progression towards the realization of a goal. They implicitly provide a structure for those who are listening.

3.- DUE TO THE SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP PROPOSED

We may attract people who would not go to the theatre to a storytelling show.   We can do this in places such as libraries, rural village halls, village squares and private houses, with young people in deprived neighbourhoods, with old people, etc. and in places which are not well-adapted for a stage. This proximity allows a dialogue to be re-established using simple communication; a budget journey making use of the listeners' own images. This always creates a coexistence interchange which is peaceful and relaxed, and demystifies the role of the artist, thus favouring further encounters.    

The fragility of this type of show which is based on the tacit, absolute agreement that "there is nothing, you have to imagine everything" , is its strength.  The complicity of the narrator with THEIR public creates an unsurpassable form for representing the world in its complexity with almost no available means.   That which is imagined has no limits; anything is possible... "We" may accept the idea, as in dreams, of crossing space and time, flying, changing ourselves, confronting fantastic images here and now, without gadgets and without moving from our chairs... Storytellers are a type of cultural  parachutist. They do not make a sound within the media circus of reality shows, but the journey they propose is engraved upon us in way that is both intimate and unforgettable.  Anyone can dare to tell stories in their own way; young people in particular can  find through this a medium for approaching the arts, for cultivating self-confidence, and for being able to express themselves while developing the fantastic tool which is the word in all its forms. 

Finally, in times such as these, where language is being undermined (hegemony of the image, simplification of words converted into advertising, cultural domination of standards formatted by multinational industries) the oral tradition of the shared word; fragile, diverse, heterogeneous, fumbling, fantastic, open to free interpretation and beyond a single line of thought, is a credible, original alternative for safeguarding that which is human, beyond the individualism towards which the commercialized world routinely sends us.

Pepito Mateo
Storyteller and Director. France