Saturday, February 23, 2013

Grow Your Own Adventure Storytelling

After Kids + 1 = Fun this morning, we tried something new at Studio 116

"Grow Your Own Adventure" Storytelling!  Chris and Sara came to my senior capstone performance in December, and Sara asked me last month if I'd be game to do something similar at Studio 116.

The premise is basically guided improvisational story telling.  Because I would love for other people to be inspired to try the same thing, I'm going to share the 'recipe':  1. a protagonist.  All great stories have to have at least one main character.  2. a goal.  Our main character needs to want to -do- something/ -go- somewhere.  Something, anything.  It's going to be what takes what is NOW and gives our character a reason to leave the status quo to do something else.  3.  choices.  I sometimes like giving three choices and letting someone else choose, but  if you've got an audience you feel you can trust, you can out right ask questions and let them come up with their own answers unguided.  4.  YES!  Embrace suggestions.  This really is improv and going with the yes can lead you in fantastic directions.  and 5.  Pay attention.  Pay attention to what you've already said and what the character's ultimate goal is so that you can tie things back together as you go.

I've done this with my boys for as long as they've been old enough to answer.  Making up stories as we go is one of their all time favorite things.  And I absolutely encourage you to give it a try!  Besides, if the story goes south, you get lost, it starts to ramble, or your start losing your audience, you can always wrap it up with, "And they all -died-!"  (;

The event today was only thirty minutes long, and absolutely free, and an awful lot of fun to get to do!

We created two brand new stories that I'm going to share with you now.

Our protagonist in the first story is a marshmallow who wanted to swim across the ocean without any hands.  (As a side note, I will put ( ) around asides and input from the audience.)  And so our story begins:

Once upon a time, in the not too distant future  ((Oooo!  The future!!), a family of marshmallows lived on a island.  (Which island?...Oh!  How about the Bermuda Island?!)  Of course they lived on the Bermuda Island!  It's known for strange and unusual things, and a family of marshmallows would certain count!  ((giggle) ....How did they get there?)  That's a -very- good question....How do -you- think they got there?  (Hmmm... Oh!  They fell from the sun and were lucky to land on the Bermuda Island and were even luckier they didn't get toasted!)  Absolutely!  But that was 20 generations ago!  This family of marshmallows had been living on the Bermuda Island in the middle of the ocean for -twenty- generations. ((What do they eat?)  Coconuts...  It's why they're so white, from all that coconut meat.  (Ah!  That makes sense!))   And they were stuck there!  See, marshmallows can't swim.  Oh, they can float for a bit, but there are birds who might eat them and fish that might eat them and if they're out on the ocean too long, they just dissolve away to foam like poor Uncle Albert (Poor Uncle Albert!).  Well now, there was a Momma Marshmallow, a Poppa Marshmallow and -15- children!  ((Whoa!  That's a LOT of kids!) Well....they're marshmallows-- the bag is always full of all those relatives.  They like to have big families.)  And the youngest of these marshmallows as named Toby. (Yea!)  One day, Toby decided he wanted to cross the great wide ocean.  Surely, there must be something else out there besides their home on the island!  But his parents told him no, they begged him and pleaded with him not to go because they were worried about him.  But Toby was determined and so he began his quest.  (Did he go 1. to the beach, 2. up to the mountain, or 3. off into the woods?  (Ooo!  He went into the woods!)  And so he headed off into the woods.  He had never been there before ((Why not?)  Well, he was the youngest of the marshmallows, and -this- was his -first- adventure!) and he was a little bit scared as he entered the dark scary forest and what should he encounter!  But a giant macaw!  (Oh no!  I hope the macaw doesn't eat him!)  He trembled in fear and closed his eyes because he thought this was going to be his end, but!  It turned out that this was the Great Macaw, who said, "Ah, Toby!  I see that you have started your first quest, but this is only the beginning of your great adventure!" (And he knew Toby's name because he the oldest and the wisest of the macaws, that's why they called him the Great Macaw.  (I was -just- about to ask that!))  And Toby stopped trembling and nodded. (He must have known this was a nice macaw!)  And the Great Macaw said, "In order to begin, Toby, YOU must ask the -right- question."  (So, if Toby wants to swim across the ocean without using his hands, what do you think he needs to ask the Great Macaw?  ("Great Macaw, How do I cross the ocean to see the wide, wide world?")  "Ah!  Excellent question, Toby.  That is exactly what you needed to ask!  See, long, long ago, in other parts of the world, your brethren have always traveled in plastic bags.  Most of them have not grown wild raising coconuts like your family.  And the makers of these bags are not always as kind to our world as they should be, so far to often, their plastic bags end up in our wide, wide ocean ((Humans don't always clean up after themselves....That's so sad.)  Yes, it is.) and so you must seek this plastic to travel the wide, wide ocean.  And so Toby began his quest to find the plastic.  (Did he go to the beach, the mou... (Yes! He went to the beach!)  You're absolutely right!)  Of course he went to the beach!  If this plastic thing had floated in the wide, wide oceans, then the beach was the place to start because it touched the ocean!  But he had never seen anything like on the beach by his home, so he made the arduous journey across his island home to the other side, where he came across Trash Beach.  ((That's so sad!) Well...it would be to you or I, because we know what it is-- but can you imagine what it must be like for someone who had never seen it?  All that shiny plastic in such vibrant colors?  All the pretty glass and sparkling soda cans?  Just imagine seeing green and blue and red and white bottle caps for the very first time!  Well that's the wonder that Toby took from it!)  He searched and searched throughout the beach, and though he came across many a plastic bag-- they were all holey or shredded or sun rotted. (Oh no!)  But then!  Oh!  What did he see?!?  A -giant- two liter bottle! With it's lid!  (Was it empty?!)  Well, he -thought- it was.  Until he opened it!  And inside, at the very, very bottom, was a note!  It said, "To whom ever finds this, my name is Albert.  (Oh!! It's Uncle Albert!!!  He -didn't- die in the ocean!!  Yea!!) I always believed there was more to this world beyond the wide, wide ocean and so I took this bottle and used it to venture out.  I am sending it back, with this note, hoping it will find it's way back to YOU that you too can leave the island.  Toby was so excited!!  He brought that bottle and note with him through the forest and back to his family on the other side of the island ((Yea!  They're going to find Uncle Albert!!!...But how will they know where he is?)  They -don't-!  They'll just have to search the wide, wide world and hope that they can find him!)  When he showed them the note and the bottle, they decided they would -all- go together (after all, it's a big bottle, with plenty of room for all of them!)  And so the day came when they loaded up into the bottle, twisted the cap on and rolled down the beach and out to the ocean.  ((Did they bring coconuts with them to eat?)  Absolutely!  But dried shavings.  It's smaller and it travels better that way. (That makes sense.... Did anyone get sea sick?) Only poor little Lucy got sea sick.  They had to reduce her rations of coconut. (Poor Lucy.)  But she spent most of the journey sleeping, so it wasn't that bad.)  They had many great adventures traveling the ocean!  Sometimes, the bottle floated and they could watch seagulls and clouds passing by.  And sometimes the bottle was below the surface of the water and they could see the life underneath, like fish and whales and a giant squid!  (Oh no!  The giant squid didn't eat them, did it?)  They were afraid of the giant squid, but it only passed very, very close and looked at them with it's giant eye before swimming off again. (Because giant squid are very shy.  (Oh!  That makes sense!)  And then the day came... (Did they see the Statue of Liberty?!?) when they saw the Statue of Liberty!  As they floated across the harbor and settled on the beach, they saw sights they had never imagined could have existed!  They tentatively opened the lid of their bottle and lo and behold!  What should they find but Uncle Albert had built his home under the board walk right there!  Their family was reunited! (Wow!  They were really lucky to find him like that!)  And Toby had his first great adventure and sailed across the wide, wide ocean without using his hands.

The end. (:

We still had ten minutes left, so I offered to do a second story.  When I asked for a main character, I was told, "Hmmm.... how about a lamp....or a giant squid!"  And I said, "How about a story about a Lamp AND a Giant Squid!"  And so we created:

Lampie and G Squidly Become the Best of Friends

Once upon a time, about two weeks ago, scientists discovered the giant squid.  But -more- importantly, two weeks ago, the giant squid discovered the scientists!  You see, previous to their mutual encounter, the giant squid had never seen anything like them.  He just spent his time doing squidly type things-- swimming around.  Looking for something to eat.  Hanging out with the other giant squid.  But he was curious!  He wanted to learn more about these scientists and large metal thing they were in.  (I bet it was a submarine!)  It was!  The first time he touched it with one of his tentacles, he was surprised at how cold and smooth it was!  But he came back, because he wanted to know -more-.  (Ah!  If you look around (where the lights were lit up on the stage) it even looks like squid marks on the walls-- perhaps he's hear listening to our story now!)  He came to a window and looked in with his great big eye.  But it was so bright!!!  He closed his eye and then squinted to look in.  ((Why did it hurt his eye?)  Well, the giant squid lives deep, deep, deep in the ocean.  It's so deep, he'd never really seen light before. (Not even the sun?  Why didn't he come to the surface and look at the sun?)  Well, he can't breath air like you and I.  (Did he ever look up?  Maybe he could see the sunlight through the water.)  He might have!  But he was so deep, the water would have diffused the light and it wasn't nearly as bright as what he was seeing through the window.  (Ah!))  And do you know what he saw?  (Head shake no)  It was room with a desk full of notes and a lamp making all that brightness on the corner.  He had never seen anything so marvelous as that lamp!

Now as it turns out, that lamp was just standing there, doing it's job, like it always had.  Coming on when turned on and going out when turned off.  Always so the scientists could see the papers they were working on.  But he wasn't paying attention to their papers because he wasn't a scientist and more so, he wasn't happy with his job.  (Why wasn't he happy with his job?)  Well, every day, he shone when they turned him on whether he wanted to or not.  Did he ever get a day off?  (No.)  Did anyone ever ask him if he -wanted- to shine? (No). Nope.  And he was feeling pretty grumpy about it.  So he was paying those scientists no-never-mind and letting his attention wander elsewhere, when!  What should he see through the window but a giant eye!!  Why!  He'd never seen anything like it!

And so our giant squid looked at the light and our light looked at the giant squid.  And that was the end of the first day.  The scientists turned out the light and left. And so this continued for several days ((Did the scientists ever notice the giant squid?)  You know, you would -think- that since they were there to do research on giant squids they would have, but they really didn't!  I'm thinking they weren't very observant! (I agree!)).  Now the lamp was finally excited, and he'd been paying attention to what the scientists were writing, and when they left that day-- they forgot to turn him out on their way out the door!  So the lamp said, "Pardon me" to the giant squid. (What's his name?  (...Lampie!))  "My name is Lampie."  And the giant squid said (What's the giant squid's name? (.....um.... G. Squidly!)), "Nice to meet you!  I'm G Squidly, yo!"  And from that day forward, they were the best of friends.  Lampie would tell Squidly of the life of humans and learned how to turn himself off and on, and G. Squidly would tell Lampie stories of his adventures out in the wide, wide ocean!

The end.

All in all, we had a fantastic time (:

I hope you've enjoyed the stories we made, and more so, I hope they inspire you to try making some of your own!

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