What people have said about online workshops

“Telling the listener”: for the San Antonio Storytellers Association

Reflecting on Richard Martin’s Storytelling Workshop “Telling the Listener: Folktale Structures and Range of Performance”
Sue Kuentz, storyteller, President San Antonio Storytellers Association

I am still reeling from Richard Martin’s Storytelling Workshop the San Antonio Storytellers Association hosted on Saturday, Sept. 5th. The silver lining of the Covid-19 Pandemic was utilizing the virtual Zoom meeting platform and seeking out San Antonio’s Sister City storyteller Richard Martin to present his workshop from Darmstadt, Germany. We were able to invite the world. Attendees tuned in from India, Canada, and coast to coast USA.  What was supposed to be 3 hours of folktale story critiquing, barebone revamping and pair sharing in breakout rooms on Zoom, turned out to be closer to 4 hours with no one wanting to leave. Certainly, this is a testimony to how superb Richard Martin’s planning and presentation was! We did have some technical problems with breakout room details but the end product was sharing the love of folktales through “Glows and Grows” with various partners and that was priceless. “Glows” being what you liked about your partner’s telling and “Grows” being what could be improved. Richard’s workshop was titled “Telling the Listener: Folktale Structures and Range of Performance” and his theme was from a quote that holds true for storytellers: “The amateur tells the words, the professional tells the story, but the artist tells the listener.” What potential it has for any storyteller, beginner to working talespinner, traveling along that trajectory toward artistry!

The attendees heard Richard tell “Free Melons” and “Death and the Gardener” live and were given time to critique his two tales through plenary discussion which was perfect modeling for our partnering up in breakout rooms to learn chosen barebone stories such as “Tortoise Called All of You” and “Tortoise Wins Spicy Food Competition.” This activity allowed us to discuss and work on one of those tales with our partner and then we were put with another partner to tell our version of the story focusing in on structure and telling to the listener. Our last block of time was spent working on two other barebone folktales.

Richard has an anthology of over 110 folktales he has recorded on his website that I encourage all of you to view because he is truly a master of telling and shares those tales with all of us.

Why are folktales important to tell? Richard ended his workshop sharing that folktales say something about us- a bit of Darwinism. They have survived for thousands of years and they’re still being told today. “The Blacksmith and the Devil” is a tale that’s been researched by Dr. Jamie Tehrani who estimates that the story originated 6000 years ago during the Bronze age.

You can hear Richard telling it on his website. His last tale was short but so powerful and left us all saying ah! You can hear his favorite tale here and you too will say “ah.”

Thank you, Richard, for a workshop that will keep giving throughout our lives as we focus on the structures and range of our stories. Here’s wishing there will be a part 2 soon! You are truly the Sage of Storytelling.

If your guild would like to invite Richard to tell or present a workshop (which I highly recommend) please contact him at tales@tellatale.eu.

Screenshot from the San Antonio workshop

After a 2021 teacher-training workshop for Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, a student wrote:

Dear Mr. Martin,
I have attended your workshop on storytelling today at the LMU and I wanted to tell you that I was completely in awe of it.
I was already interested in storytelling before your talk but I haven’t known how to incorporate it into the classroom and also haven’t felt that confident telling a story myself.
I will take your tip into account on not worrying too much and just having fun while telling a story. Plus it really inspired me and I am looking forward to trying it out myself in my classroom one day.
I was very curious about your workshop and it was so worth attending. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, it was very interesting and made me want to try storytelling out even more.

After the identical workshop in 2020, the professor wrote:

I feel like I should really share with you how enthusiastic they all speak of your workshop. All students started their responses to the question “Would you include storytelling in your English lessons? Why/why not?” with words like “I would definitely include storytelling in my English lessons…” The students in my courses study Lehramt Gymnasium/Realschule and it is definitely your merit that they all want to use it in their classes now.

My colleague recently wrote me the following:
wollte dir nur erzählen, dass eine meine Studentinnen im Praktikum (8. Klasse MS) das Video von Richards “Death and the Gardener” gezeigt hat und das bei den Schülern (und auch der Lehrerin) sehr gut ankam :-).

One of my students emailed me for a different purpose last week but ended with a compliment for your workshop:
“P.S.: Ich wollte Ihnen eigentlich schon direkt nach dem Workshop mit Richard Martin ein kurzes Feedback dazu schreiben, habe es dann aber nicht geschafft, daher möchte ich das an dieser Stelle noch kurz nachholen: Der Workshop war wirklich ein absolutes Highlight meines Semesters – Richard Martin ist wirklich großartig, und ich hoffe, dass ich diese beeindruckende Form des Umgangs mit Sprache später auch ins Klassenzimmer werde transportieren können.”

In a very inspiring webinar Richard Martin told us a lot about successful storytelling. What is special about it is how impressed all the students were by the manner of telling his stories even though the stories were for children. This and also his experiences bring me
to the conclusion that children will like or even love a story being told. Whenever he starts telling a story he takes down his glasses so the pupils already know what will happen next. This conveys a relaxed atmosphere. Maybe I will be able to think of such a ritual to create an atmosphere without stress and fear.

Two students mailed me directly:

I would like to thank you for the workshop.
I’ve always been very shy when it comes to presenting a presentation or telling a story. I’ve watched loads of YouTube videos how to present stuff. I have improved on it a bit but actually no YouTube video has ever explained what it means to trust a story as you did.
When I heard that this workshop has been organized, I was expecting to hear a presentation on theoretical stuff but not such a vivid and interactive communication.
I hope you are looking forward to visiting the LMU more often. I would attend your workshop even it’s the same you did today.
Thank you so much for the material on your homepage.

I just wanted to thank you for your workshop at the LMU today. It was really amazing and I loved every second of it. I feel like I learned more in those two hours than in every other course I ever had. Please keep doing such awesome work.

After an in-school teacher-training online workshop for Hauptschule Bergheim
The organiser mailed: It was great. We are all determined to implement storytelling!

After a three-hour online workshop for PH Karlsruhe
I learned a lot, about the subject of storytelling and my personal storytelling-style! The online format worked really well, a big thanks to everyone who organised it!

After the first, a three-hour workshop with participants from Finland, Germany, Singapore, South Korea and UK
I found the workshop very useful, because it ignited the spark of storytelling in me! I was also surprised, how well we could work online – and had such a wonderfully international group! This wouldn’t have been even possible without the online setting. I also think that your web page with all the links and stories is exceptionally good – it provides so much information on everything around storytelling. I’ve just started to discover it and will probably need weeks to get to know just a part of it.
By the way, will you have another workshop on methodology of storytelling at school? I would be interested in that! 🙂

Feedback after in-person workshops


Current workshop schedule

Details of previous workshops in Germany, Italy, England, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and the USA

Downloadable workshop details in Chinese (2-page pdf)

Go here for tales to watch

Go here for a list of all tales included on this site

Go here to receive an e-mail notification when new tales are added

Permission to tell outlines my views on copyright

For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling