about the art of historical storytelling

There is an excellent and fascinating piece by Danette Boucher in today’s Prince George Citizen about what it means to do historical storytelling, specifically in Barkerville:

Storytelling is, I believe, a great act of civilization. We share stories socially, we write them down, we speak them out loud. It’s part of how we make sense of ourselves. The humanity of storytelling includes understanding how and when one story fits into another story.

This week I was helping a new street interpreter wrestle with the challenge of Barkerville’s signature ‘town tour’ – perhaps the most complicated, abstract show I’ve ever been involved [in] during my career as a museum theatre specialist. We talked about the reasoning behind which stories are included and/or excluded from the formal presentation. There are so many Cariboo stories, and stories within stories, and we simply cannot cover them all in a single hour. Instead, we find ourselves having to cut stories we love because of time restraints, or relevance, or because a particular topic is being dealt with adequately by a different interpretive program. There are also situations, I said, when a story “just has to wait for its moment.” She seemed a little confused by this last utterance, and for good reason. It can be tricky to grasp the idea that, sometimes, a story needs to wait for just the right time and place to be told.

You can read the rest of it here: We Choose Our Stories Carefully In Barkerville.

2 thoughts on “about the art of historical storytelling

  1. Kate Nonesuch says:

    Thanks Melinda for this interesting look into the back story of a museum’s decisions about stories–I always like to hear from people about the complexities of their work.

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