Once Upon A Time by Barry Mitchell
We’re continuing with our GREAT stories acronym. In the last issue we discussed G – Graspable point. A great performance story should have a point or moral the kids will understand. R – Retains attention. The story, props, and storyteller’s ability should retain the audience’s attention. And now E – Emotionally involving.

The best way to explain emotionally involving is to offer a simple outline for a good story. George M. Cohan said a play has three acts. Act 1 Get the hero up a tree, 2. Throw rocks at him, 3. Get him out of the tree. The emotional part is when the rocks are thrown. That’s the part of the story where the audience becomes attached to the character. It’s the part where we’re cheering for him. That’s the part we remember.

I believe any story may be good but a great story grabs the listener emotionally. It is emotion that creaties long lasting memories. Think about movies or books that you consider unforgettable. Can you still feel the emotions you first felt when you saw or read them? I recently saw the new “Rocky Balboa” movie. When Rocky ran up those stairs in Philly with the theme music playing I was immediately taken back to my childhood when I saw the first Rocky. It is these emotional moments that form such deep impressions.

One of my favorite quotes concerning emotional involvement between performer and audience is this: “People will not always remember what you say, they will not always remember what you do, but they will always remember the way you make them feel.” It truly is our emotional connections that form our strongest memories. So how do we add emotion to our entertainment storytelling? Easy, we use stories that touch our heart. I call it a heart tug, that point of the story that grabs your heart. Possibly you want to shed a tear. Or maybe you remember a brighter time in your childhood. Maybe it’s the moral of the story that touches your heart. The key is, there is strength in a heart tug. As performers we should strive to do more than amaze them with magic or tickle them with humor. Those skills will be forgotten. But touching the heart lasts a lifetime.

As you read my penny story I think you’ll see how I’ve added magic to an emotionally involving story.

Penny for your thoughts
May I borrow a penny from someone? Allow me to shine it up so it can be seen from a distance. (Penny is magically switched for a 3 inch jumbo penny.) Yes, I believe you can see it now. You might even see the image or impression of Abraham Lincoln. Although Lincoln is known for the difference he made in our world do you know the story of someone who made a difference in him? Legend says that Lincoln was at his mother’s bedside as she died. Her final words whispered in his ear were, “Be somebody Abe.” He worked and studied and became someone special and made a difference in millions of lives. He made quite an impression.

This penny can be a pocket reminder of our potential. It reminds us that we may seem small and powerless but we have great potential. When I reach in my pocket and feel a penny it gently whispers to me, “Be somebody, live up to your potential. Be somebody in someone else’s live.” You might say it’s just a penny for your thoughts.

That’s it for this issue. In coming issues we’ll cover the A, and T of our GREAT acronym. We’ll also be learning about how to write a good story, mixing magic with stories, and story examples. Until the next Once Upon A Time . . .

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