In this course, oral storytellers are invited to explore their repertoire of traditional folktales with a focus on racism, gender and hetero-normativity. Through hands-on exercises, the workshop supports the development of narrative and performing strategies to creatively overcome ethical problems.

As oral storytellers, one of the essential aspects of our practice is the process of selecting, adapting and performing traditional folktales for contemporary audiences. In doing so, we often have to deal with problematic issues such as racism, gender or hetero-normativity. Traditional tales were fixed in writing at a certain point in history. On the one hand, we work with imported imagery when we tell stories from another culture. On the other are confronted with concepts and stereotypes present in our cultural background.

What are you talking about? is a practical-theoretical course aimed at raising awareness and solving the ethical problems which cultural appropriation and the imagery of traditional folktales often present to contemporary sensibilities. We invite professional oral storytellers to embark on a shared journey in which, as a starting point, we will be looking at our positioning and cultural background. From there, we will look into our repertoires, then analyse and work with particular stories we are telling. Through guided exploration and hands-on exercises from storytelling and theatre practice, the work aims to develop narrative and performing strategies to creatively overcome these ethical problems.

The theoretical component of this course addresses topics such as:

  • the historical contextualization of the artistic movements of oral storytelling
  • their contexts and discourses
  • an overview of the approaches and theories in the studies of folktales and oral traditions
  • an outline of the theory of narrative, focusing specifically on oral narration.

Besides, the course offers an introduction to the issues of stereotypes and cultural appropriation with specific relevance to oral storytelling in the context of historical and present-day power structures.

As part of the course, all participants will take part in a final reflection and evaluation of the process.

The course is part of a four-year-long project initiated by The Federation for European Storytellers (FEST) and is aimed at supporting the professional development of young storytellers in Europe. What are you talking about? runs in collaboration with Berlin University of the Arts.