Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Loose Edges of Storytelling

Acting, animating, drawing, singing, writing, filming and dancing. All of these methods and more have been used fluidly over centuries and centuries in order to satisfy our desire for a good story. One interesting form, a precursor to cinema and comics as we now know them, was a storytelling practice outlined in a recent book by Eric P. Nash, Manga Kamishibai. Storytellers on the streets of Japan would tell elaborate stories with the aid of a sequence of paintings. From the publisher's site:

During the height of kamishibai in the 1930s, storytellers would travel to villages and set up their butais (miniature wooden prosceniums), through which illustrated boards were shown. The storytellers acted as entertainers and reporters, narrating tales that ranged from action-packed westerns, period pieces, traditional folk tales, and melodramas, to nightly news reporting on World War II. More than just explaining the pictures, a good storyteller would act out the parts of each character with different voices and facial expressions. 

Read some more excerpts and quotes from the author here.

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