Bill Holt tells a fishing tale at Odie’s Deli on Friday, June 2, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. Holt was among the seven storytellers in the latest session of True Tales Told Live, an occasional storytelling event co-founded by Pegge Erkeneff, Jenny Nyman, and Kaitlin Vadla. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion file)

Bill Holt tells a fishing tale at Odie’s Deli on Friday, June 2, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. Holt was among the seven storytellers in the latest session of True Tales Told Live, an occasional storytelling event co-founded by Pegge Erkeneff, Jenny Nyman, and Kaitlin Vadla. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion file)

Connecting through stories

True Tales Told Live to host workshop events

Telling a good story begins with knowing how to craft the right words together while connecting with an audience.

November will be the perfect time to hone the storytelling craft with the True Tales, Told Live storytelling workshop, which will be held every Tuesday in November.

True Tales Told Live took shape in 2016 as the brainchild of Soldotna’s Jenny Neyman, Kaitlyn Vadla and Pegge Erkeneff, and has been a staple at Odie’s Deli in Soldotna since then, popping up every few months or so. The events are particularly popular in the winter months when the creative juices really get flowing from being cooped up inside.

Neyman said the workshop is being hosted in partnership with Soldotna Community Schools, and will focus on the process of storytelling from draft to performance. She said she hopes that teaming up with Vadla for the four-week workshop will provide the community a solid base to start from.

“We’re kind of expecting a range of things,” Neyman said. “On one level, we started (True Tales) because the three of us believe pretty deeply in the power and importance of story. We’ll touch on that a little, and if people dig that, great, and if you’re coming from the level of storytelling as a great way to bs around the fireplace, then that’s great too.”

Neyman comes from a writing background in journalism, where she got her start writing for her high school newspaper. Vadla has honed her creativity as owner of Vibrant Alaska, which she started as a way to help promote her own art as well as the community art scene.

Neyman said she and Vadla hope to provide support for people who wish to improve their storytelling skills, especially those who have never gotten up in front of a live audience before.

“We’ve worked with them in the past, but we haven’t done much of a formalized, in-depth workshop approach for people,” Neyman said. “We did a short one once that was one night, and it was just enough time to blast enough information for people, but not enough for folks to take it and try it themselves.”

One of the trickier aspects to performing at True Tales Told Live is that storytellers must deliver their stories without note cards or other cues, which Neyman said is done as a way to better connect with the audience.

“We’re going to have some prompts and exercises to get people thinking about things that will be stories,” she said. “We’d like to them to try writing with all of your senses.”

With the emergence of events like True Tales Told Live and the upcoming November workshop, Neyman said the art of good storytelling is losing the nature of what makes it compelling.

“I think storytelling is integral to being a human being,” she said. “It’s not going to go away, but I think it’s losing appreciation as an art form. It’s about relating to other people, and we’re losing our ability to listen actively. We have devices beeping at us and information flashing into our brains.

“Not only is it a fun way to connect with other people, it’s important to build storytelling skills, whether it be a speech in front of people, at the office or chatting with people at holidays.”

True Tales, Told Live workshops will be hosted every Tuesday evening in November from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Registration is $15 for the four-week session on the City of Soldotna website or $5 for a one week drop-in.

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