Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Long and Winding Thank You Note.

Last week, I had the chance to be a guest speaker at a Master Class for children's literature course. The class was composed of elementary school teachers working on their Master's degree. We had a great time learning about storytelling and its classroom role. I tend towards a very active presentation regardless of the the audience. We told stories, we laughed, they risked, we all learned. What was most interesting was the hand written thank-you note the group of students. It was printed on a standard 8.5" x 11"sized piece of yellow construction paper and appears that they passed the paper around to build the story. Each section after the leading ellipses was in a new handwriting. This has to be one of my favorite thank-you notes ever. Sharing it with you now:

"...Once upon a time, there was a boy named Sean who liked to tell stories.

...His story started as soon as he walked in the classroom. The faces looking at him and waiting in anticipation made his heart thump and his creative juices flowing.

...The class was mesmerized by his first story, enjoying every word immensely.

..And then he asked his audience to PERFORM. This wasn't meant to be tit for tat, as they say. But this boy named Sean was a risk-taker, a challenger, a rumple-stumple hell raisin' kind of guy and he shook up the crowd for sure!

...The there was an absent gal who's hearing all the grand details...that now is feeling an aweful void in her heart wishing she was there.

...She sure missed the loud voice that come from his lungs and heart. Can't wait to hear such a story in voice on November 21st at Barnes and Noble.

...I hope Sean knows and realizes he has made a great impact on us. "

Such fun. Thanks for the note!!

(Blog keywords: storytelling, storyteller, children's, story,, buvala)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

10 Pieces of Quick, Blunt Advice for Those Who Are Starting Out on the Road to new Teller-dom

<>10 Pieces of Quick, Blunt Advice for Those Who are Starting Out on the Road to New "Professional" Teller-dom.

1. "Professional" is about you and your ability to deliver above and beyond what your clients need. Professional is knowing what those needs are before your client knows they have them. If you call yourself "professional" just because you make money at it, stop. Always give value above and beyond what your client has paid for. Give, give, give.

professional storyteller storytelling sean buvala
2. You need a repertoire of at least twice what your client and audience seek. If they want 1/2 hour, then you need at least an hour. If you want to work festivals, you need at least six hours of no-repeat material and another two hours as back up.

3. Get listed in on-line directories. Your clients are searching the Internet no matter if you "get it" or are "comfortable with it." Start with the best (and yet still most affordable) directory at

4. Use both sides of your business card.

5. Large postcards are king for direct postal mail. You need to have at least monthly contact with everyone on your mailing list. Some pros I work with say at

...Read the rest at at:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Repost: Tellabration Part Two

To hear part two of the Tellabration Podcast, click here. To hear part one, see the entry above or below this one. You can also hear (in Windows Media) individual parts of the program in our Amphitheater at

Tellabration Pictures.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

November PodCast: Tellabration 2006 (Part Two)

Part Two!! was pleased to present a Tellabration(tm) in Avondale, AZ. Part of our regular monthly " @ Borders" events, our Tellabration featured seven tellers from around the state of Arizona. As a treat for you, we have the entire night presented in a a two-part Podcast for you right here! The Tellabration is a trademark program of the National Storytelling Network, which coordinates (loosely) more than 300 storytelling events around the U.S. and the world the third Saturday in November. Our online store at is our sponsor for the Borders nights.

To hear part two of the Podcast, click here. To hear part one, see the entry above or below this one. You can also hear (in Windows Media) individual parts of the program in our Amphitheater at

November PodCast: Tellabration 2006 (Part One) was pleased to present a Tellabration(tm) in Avondale, AZ. Part of our regular monthly " @ Borders" events, our Tellabration featured seven tellers from around the state of Arizona. As a treat for you, we have the entire night presented in a two-part Podcast for you right here! The Tellabration is a trademark program of the National Storytelling Network, which coordinates (loosely) more than 300 storytelling events around the U.S. and the world the third Saturday in November. Our online store at is our sponsor for the Borders nights.

To hear part one of the Podcast, click here. To hear part two, see the entry above or below this one. You can also hear (in Windows Media) individual parts of the program in our Amphitheater at

Our night was attended by 40 or so participants. Our Borders nights are pretty fluid so the crowd changes from moment to moment, but the core group of people remained steady at 40. I'm grateful to our tellers for their permission to share this night in audio form with you: Sandy Oglesby, Bonnie Angster, Glenda Bonin, Penny Morningstar, Elly Reidy and Carol Knarr for their stories and their time. I also was in the line up and our night was MC'd by Erin Benites.

I've gotta say it was a great night of storytelling. Sandy, Penny, Glenda, Elly and Carol all told personal tales. Bonnie shared a quick humor tale and I told an obscure Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Great night and great telling. I hope you enjoy our digital Tellabration(tm) as much as we enjoyed it live in Arizona! Look for other Podcasts in this blog!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

50 Reasons to Use Storytelling in Business: #1

Reason #1: Storytelling transforms work from what “they make us do” to “what we do together.”

Many folks outside of your management layers don’t always clearly and concisely know what is going on in the organization. Trust me, you do have layers no matter how hard you might try not to have them. They are there. Learning to share the corporate story helps the “them” to become the “us.” Ownership and buy-in increases when “we are” working together on a commonality instead of “they are” working us. When I know the story, when I participate in the formation of that story, I then become vested in it.

Let's look at this another way. Think about the task of preparing a meal. Will you provide more love and care with that meal if you are going to eat the meal instead of simply preparing it for others? Of course you would do better! In the same way, those who form, know and enjoy the story. . .well, you get the idea.

So, when we are forming and sharing the story together, knowing the history, knowing the arc of the narrative of our corporate story, we grow as a team toward a common set of goals.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

October 2006 Podcast: Stories of the "Season"

Time for some late October seasonal tales, yes? Let's see, we have nightmares and cats, ghosts and graves, bones and dancing, and ghosts with black eyes.

The October 2006 Podcast is here! You can listen with or without an Ipod or an mp3 player! Click this link right here to listen on your computer.

You can also get the October Podcast on Itunes when you use this link now.

This month’s Podcast, posted late in the month for the stories "of the season," features storytellers Priscilla Howe, K. Sean Buvala, Ellouise Schoettler, and Bob and Kathie Myers.

The Podcast is sponsored by Come see the brand new online store!

Monday, September 04, 2006 Podcast, September 2006

After our Summer Vacation for July and August: It's now here, the September, 2006 edition of the Amphitheater: Podcast Edition!

The Podcast is free of charge to you the listener! Sponsored by

Featured on this September 2006 Podcast:

Stories by: Sean Buvala, Kindra Gayle McGrane, Joe Keenan.
Product Review: "There Were Three Crows"
Coaching Tip: Wild Gestures

Listen and/or Download the PodCast now at:

Find us at Itunes at:
This Link!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Everybody Listens Differently

Everybody Listens Differently.

During a recent performance at a camp deep in the forests of the Prescott mountains, I watched with interest a young man, about 14 years old, in my audience. He sat in the front row of this large, high-school-aged crowd with a group of his friends, all of whom appeared to be watching me intently. However, this young man stood out for his lack of attention. Every time I would look at his group, he would be looking off to one side or the other. Now, I am not so egoistical as to demand that my audience watch my every move, but unlike his friends who seemed to be engaged, he appeared to have something better to do than watch this storyteller.

Positioned by the exit door at the end of the night, I was shaking hands with kids as they left. My non-attentive young audience member came through the line and stuck out his hand. "Thanks for the stories tonight, they were very good," he said. Not sure he had heard anything at all that I had said, I asked him which stories he liked the best. He answered quickly, "Oh, the one about the giant guy and the other one about that boy who lost his hat that his dad gave him. They were pretty cool and they made me think."

Although I am used to audiences of teenagers and their listening styles, I had to pursue this one just a moment longer. I said to him, "Well, I am glad you liked them, but it didnât look like you were enjoying yourself. You never looked up." He replied, "Yeah, I thought it was better for me to listen to you sideways so I could get the pictures in my head."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mama Java's Gig

I had a performance at "Mama Java’s Coffee House" in Phoenix last night. The event was "Word Spoken" sponsored by my friend Resa. "Mama Java’s" is a neighborhood coffee house that hosts a variety of artists and art forms and skip the commercialism of the chain places like, well, you know who they are. Everyone needs a $5 cup of corporate coffee? But, Mama Java’s has better scones, that is for sure.

The audience was about 20 people, many of them spoken word performers themselves. My set consisted of "Drunk Mr. Daniels," my R rated version of the story that is on the PG rated "Calling Out a Rising Sun: Stories for Teenage Boys" CD. I followed that with the Irish Pooka tale of "The Fiery Steed" and my warped version of "The Demon Cat."

I also threw in two Grimm fairy tales that I know Disney will never do. It’s funny that when I mentioned that very fact to the audience, several of them applauded. It’s good to know that so many people are concerned. Giggle. My Grimm tales where "Dog and Sparrow," a fine, bloody, horse-killing, dog murdering, house destroying, manslaughtering tale of revenge and violence. I also included "The Mother in Law" as an example of the Grimm obsession with family violence and cannibalism. Obviously stories I don’t get to do in the library and school shows.

I had a fine 45 minute set followed by a bawdy Irish tale by Resa, followed by another 45 minutes of listening to open-mic telling from mostly poets of all different levels and experience. Great evening of "everyday" storytelling in an unusual environment.
There are days I not only like my job but rather love my job. This night was one of them

Sunday, June 04, 2006 PodCast, 6/1/2006

It's here, the June 1, 2006 edition of the Amphitheater: Podcast Edition!

The Podcast is free of charge to you the listener! Sponsored by

Featured on this June 1 Podcast:

Stories by: Sean Buvala, Kindra Gayle McGrane, Harriet Cole and Laura Bobrow.
Product Review: PitchAStory Board Game
Coaching Tip: Episodic Telling
"Talk Back": Our newest feature launches

Listen and/or Download the PodCast now at:

Find us at Itunes at:

New Feature Starts This Month: Talk Back to the Podcast.

Call us and join in the fun. Our "question of the month" this month is:

"What's your favorite story?"

Think through YOUR answer and call our recording hotline, Leave your first name, your location and your answer. Speak loud and clear and your answer could end up on a future edition of the Podcast!

Call us today at ( 1) 206-600-6172. We want to hear from you. You can leave a message about anything involving, the Podcast or the question of the month.

Call us! (206) 600-6172. This number is for Podcast recordings only.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Call Us and Get On the PodCast!

We've added a new feature to the podcast! Now, you can call us and leave us your thoughts, answer our "question of the month," or othewise participate in the PodCast. If you call, your message may be featured! When you call, give us your first name, your location and your comment or answer to our question. Call today and tell us what you think about podcasting, storytelling or the podcast. Maybe you have a question about storytelling? Call and ask! The number is 206-600-6172 (country code is 1 if you need that.). Call us and talk back!

Monday, May 15, 2006

May 2006 PodCast. Listen up, youse.

The new (free of charge) Amphitheater:PodCast Edition for May 2006 is now online! Click Here to Hear It Now!

In 30 minutes, we include three stories- "The One Bedroom Apartment" by Kindra Gayle, "Two Farthings" by Sean Buvala and "Grandpa Al and Max" by Glenda Bonin. There's a coaching moment with Sean Buvala and a CD review of "The Family Gazette." Sponsored this month by

Talent and Links:
Sean Buvala (host, stories and coaching):
Kindra Gayle (stories):
Glenda Bonin:
Storytelling Coaching:
CD: "The Family Gazette" :
At .
Jyl Woolfolk (Announcer/VoiceOver):

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Here Comes the New Podcast!

Our new Podcast is coming May 15. I am so excited, I can hardly hold my trembling hands still to type this. Woo hoo.....

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Search for the World's Worst Pie

I have a storytelling friend who's listed on our site at Her name is Priscilla Howe. You can find her web site at At any rate, one of the things that Priscilla Howe does as she travels across the country is intentionally seeking out what she refers to as the "world's best pie." Maybe I'm getting the name of her exact quest wrong, I don't know. However, she has inspired me to also pay attention to the food that I eat when I'm on the road. It's very easy to just shove food in your face when you're traveling. One of the rules of the road is: If you find food, eat it. The idea is that you don't always know where your next meal is coming from. For those of you who travel frequently, you probably know exactly what I am talking about.

So, on the one of my recent road trips, after driving for two hours, I had a chance to stop and eat and change my shirt before my next event. Now, I didn't change my shirt because I was going to spill food all over it, but because I had worn a shirt that I had been sweating in the car and I thought I should not give the people who booked me the treat of smelling me as well as hearing me.

After ordering and eating the soup of the day, I thought I would treat myself to a Boston Cream Pie. Now if you know anything about pie at all, you know that a Boston Cream Pie is usually some type of chocolate pudding-like base covered with whipped cream over a standard yellow crust. I can say to you at this time that Priscilla's search for the best pie in the world does not need to occur in Prescott, Arizona. I might get sued if I actually tell you the name of the restaurant that served me this really awful Boston Cream Pie. Let's just say that this pie, well at least the chocolate part of the pie, was one of the most awful experiences in food I had ever had. The chocolate was a mixture of melted chocolate chips along with some wax that had apparently been scraped off the altar of a local church. I'm sure there was some type of gelatin in the chocolate as part of this dietary destruction that was happening on my plate. I'm not kidding, the chocolate actually wiggled on the plate. And I don't think it was because of me bumping the table. It was just wiggling of its own accord.

I don't think that there is anything that you are supposed to learn from my experience. I just know that if Priscilla ever had a chance to come to the northern section of Arizona, there is one restaurant that she can mark off her list. She won't find the best pie in the world at this place. Sigh. I'm just sorry that I had to discover this pie. At least it wasn't as bad as the "shrimp on toast" that my team was once subject to in South Dakota.

But that, as they say, is a story for another time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Video from a Borders Event.

Here is a video from our @ Borders event on March 18, 2006. It features Jeff Gere telling a Pele story, and we don't mean the soccer player. The Video is here. By the way, this is a home-style video which includes all the, umm, ambience, you get when you perform at a Borders.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Borders Podcast: 2/18/2006 boo ya! @ Borders! By the way, you can hear this event in our Podcast. Click here to get it in .mp3 now. I don’t know if I can get every event podcasted, but I’ll get a bunch of them. Oh, and the podcast is not recorded on state of the art equipment, but you can hear all the stories- even tho’ Kindra’s “Golden Goose” is a little crumpled.

Haven’t yet sat down and wrote you about our latest @ Borders event held on February 18, 2006. Every third Saturday of the month, 7:00PM, Borders Store at 99th Ave and McDowell Roads in Avondale, AZ.

We had a lighter crowd this month, about 30 people, for our show on President’s Day Weekend.

I led off with the Irish myth/story of “Ethna the Bride.” I figured that a good love story for the Valentine’s Day week would either endear people to our event or p* them off. You can always win and lose with a good story.

Erin was not with us this session, so I did the MC duties as well. I hope she’s back in March, she does a better job.

Following my MC work,
Kindra McGrane was up with two stories. Her first twenty-something story about workplace romance was great and adult and exactly the type of thing I want more of at these events. She followed by a version of the Grimm’s “Golden Goose “that was hampered by a microphone system that could not keep up with her range. I think I‘ll bring my Fender Passport 150 next time and unleash that on the group.

After Kindra, I did some more info about our upcoming workshops. Come learn. We’re trying to grow our own here, so any adults that want to learn to tell (and anyone 12 and over who’s mature enough) are invited to our workhops.

Harriet Cole followed all that stuff with a couple of really nice, change-of-pace, stories. She lead with “The Parrot who Bought a Load of Wood.” She followed that with a version of Kipling’s “Kangaroo and Dingo.” Her final story was the “The Outlandish Knight,” again more adult and a little bawdy. Bring it on, Harriet. Come back, Harriet. Harriet actually does these much longer, epic stories, too, so it was cool to get her on these shorter, lighter tales. Way to go.

Actually both tellers will be back again at future events. What a great night.

March is going to be killer. Go
here to learn more at our site or click here if you want to brave our spot at

Let me know if you like the Podcast and the idea of the Podcast.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is this thing on?

Testing a podcast kind of feed. You can listen to a short story when you click on it: The Fowler and the Viper. I'll let you know if it works. If it does, the first real Podcast will be the audio from our February 18 Borders event. the kidlings say.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Getting Around (to) the Border (review)

“Steve Otto doesn't belong here...”Or at least that is what I thought as Steve Otto (and his wife Virginia) appeared about 20 minutes before the January " @ Borders" event in Avondale AZ.

I realized, as I sit here now to get ready to do the February 18 " @ Borders," that I never wrote the list about last month's event.

What a great surprise. Our event is in Arizona. Steve lives far away in the midwest in Missouri, but there he was in Arizona. As I was getting ready with the troupe we assembled for that night, this face that I knew I knew but was in the wrong place came around the corner. I kind of did that "I know I know you" smile at him and said to myself, "That looks like Steve Otto." Then, thankfully, Steve said, "Hi Sean, I'm Steve Otto." Right away my brain said, "Steve Otto doesn't belong here. This is Arizona" It was a rather odd feeling. I then quickly realized- OH ANOTHER TELLER whose work I knew. Woo Hoo!

So, after the hellos and how-are-you's, I asked Steve if he wanted to tell as part of our line up that night. I think I had barely finished the sentence when he said "yes." Fantastic. I would not normally put a teller in cold, but Steve has been with us in the directory at for some time, I've met him in person before and he has a CD in our store at With all that, I knew he would be able to fit into our program- and I am happy to say he did a great job.

So our line up that night:

I started with the story of Eve and Adam- sort of a little warm up joke story.

Erin Benites then took over as the MC and welcomed everyone. She was followed by Zach Gallen, an 18 year old student I have been working with for a while who told the story of "The Button" which has a "Twilight Zone" feel to it. He did a nice job, especially considering that this was his first storytelling outing. Zach has worked in a variety of commercials and stage appearances, but was nervous about his fist official storytelling.

More announcements and "get your name (and address and Email) in the fishbowl" requests from Erin. Steve Otto then told a double set starting with "The Golden Arm" with a high-audience contact quotient. The "jump" of this jump story was very successful. He followed with his variant on "Lazy Jack" much to the delight of the audience.

More Erin and more announcements and commercials. Then I followed with a version of a biblical story called "Gold Foil Coins" that I had picked up from the Fountain Square Fools many years ago. Although the source is biblical, the telling of the story is not religious and is actually designed as a piece for corporate audiences. No audience can hate you when you pass chocolate out to them.

We then gave away a few CD's. Steve had several with him and we gave those out as well. He also had his infamous pens with him and I think he gave out about a dozen or so to anyone who came within 2 feet of his person, LOL.

After the CD give away, I finished up with a version of "Filling the House"- one I had adapted from an especially well put-together version from Granny Sue- with her permission to use the story of course.

It was a great set of telling and a fast hour. The surprise of Steve Otto showing up and telling was a real topper for the night. Thanks Steve!

Tonight we have myself, Harriet Cole and Kindra Gayle. Harriet is a student in the storytelling program at South Mountain Community College here in Phoenix and an experienced teller from all over the Western U. S. Kindra Gayle is a local teller who also happens to be the youngest NSN board member in the history of time immortal. So between the three of us- the audience should love at least those two. LOL.

I'll send you an update a bit later. I am planning on making a podcast of the Borders events...stand by for news.

By the way, this gig is at the Borders Store at 99Ave and McDowell Road in Avondale AZ. Third Saturday of every month, 7PM.

Friday, February 17, 2006

They dont want to hear us: Telling with Teens

I had a great day today working with kids in an elementary school- took a road trip across the state of Arizona on Wednesday. Covered the 3-5 grades first, that’s about 8-11 years of age. They were followed by the 6-8 grades, commonly called Junior High, which is around 11-14 years of age. Noted to myself that the middle grades ( the younger set) are more and more like the junior high kids used to be 10+ years ago. They’re much more media savvy than kids of the same age 10 years ago. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but I think it just “is.”

I truly enjoy the junior-high range. They come in so on the edge, many of them thinking that the “storyteller is for babies.” There’s kind of a “make me listen” thing going on. The night before at a class some people were asking about how to handle teens. I thought about that conversation and my school-show Wednesday. We started wild and by the time I had finished the final piece of “Iron John” they were deep in the storytelling trance, not even moving or making a sound.

...With adolescents, all adults have to earn the right to be heard by them. It takes time. And, for the most part, we the storytellers have to do that in the first minute or two.

...We need to grab their attention from the start, actually as they arrive in the room. Don’t hide behind the set pieces until you are introduced. As a matter of fact, skip the intro- they don’t care about our CV’s, our experience or our history...unless maybe we are going to tell them that our storytelling isn’t for babies. And at that, they probably won’t believe it.

We need to start strong with something a bit wild, maybe even a little edgy. Work down this funnel >: strong and noisy > interactive and maybe a bit calmer > something that they think would make their parents wonder if they can “handle” the type of story you’re telling > something deep that makes them drift into their own deep imaginations.

So, my program for these junior high kids looked like this:

1. A game I play with repeating sounds>
2. An interactive Prodigal Daughter
3. Creation Myth (playful and fun)
4. Two Farthings
5. Seven Ravens
6. Iron John

A great time was had by all...especially me.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Driving Away

I resolve to not listen to my performances as I drive away from them.

Along with many of you, I've had a whirlwind December and holiday season. Whether you were the presenter, the sponsor, the teacher or the librarian (or even several of those at times) there are no doubt some things you might look back on say, "I wish I could have done better."

I've been doing that lately. I performed at schools, libraries and private parties with much of the same seasonal material for all of them. That is, one series of stories adapted, changed, deleted and added for each unique audience. Each performance I recorded with my pocket recorder. Each performance I listened to after as I drove back to my office ( and several times over again) Each time I spent time beating myself up over what "I wish I could have done better."

Ahh, the joys of being an artist or sponsor. All that stuff we could have done better, could have done right. Funny, I can't seem to remember in these times of beating up that the sponsors came to me, some with tear in their eyes, thanking me for a moving and inspiring performance for their group. "Sean, this was exactly what I wanted."

It is time for my New Year's Resolution. It started when I noticed that there was something that I missed in the recordings and when I listened, I heard it happen in each and every recording, too. I was so busy StoryTelling with a capital "S" that I missed the moments of wonder.

There is a sound that audience members make, or even the whole audience makes, when at the end of a story they "get it." It may sound like, "ohh" or even a tongue click and a slight gasp or exhale of air. It could be that little smile out the side of the face along with a surprised "gerrr" sound. It may be in the sound of child literally saying, "I get it." It is in these moments that we are connecting our stories to our audience. I call these the "a-ha" moments in telling. You probably know these sounds, too.

I found I missed those *during* my performances this last season. I was too busy being The Teller and not busy enough taking in the energy back from my audience. What a loss for me and the audience. Did I move on too quickly after a story? Did they have time to let a story sink in before I went on being The Teller? Listening to the recordings as I resolved to be present and to not be judging, I heard many of these moments from my audiences. I used to be more aware of these during my performances, but somewhere along the lines in this last year, perfectionism slipped in and took over. So, this last season I traded being "perfect" (ha ha) for being present. Yuck.

So, what is my New Year's Resolution? I resolve to be as affirming to myself as I am to those that I coach, that is catching what I do right before I catch what I don't like. I resolve to be more present to the "a-ha" moments as they happen. I resolve that as I listen to a sponsor share with me their happiness with a performance that I will be present to that energy and receive it as it is given, not couching it my own buffer of , "I wish I could have done better." There is a time and place to listen to a performance regardless of how many people you are telling to and with. That time is as it is happening. Later, after some time has passed, you can go back and listen for techniques, but not right away.

I resolve to not listen to my performances as I drive away from them.