Robrt Pela on Storytelling in This Week's Print Issue of New Times
Robrt Pela is no stranger to storytelling -- the local journalist, essayist, theater critic, and curator has spent years telling stories through Phoenix New Times, KJZZ, and a collection of local publications, including Phoenix Resource, which he started in the 1980s.
Pela was recently asked to participate in a storytelling event by the Arizona Republic's Megan Finnerty. And while he thought he'd share a story like he he's been doing for years, the hip new storytelling events, now called "tellings," have a few new requirements. '
Storytelling -- a public event at which amateur "tellers" stand up before a crowd in a bar or a restaurant -- is as hot now as poetry slams were in the mid-'90s. It's especially hot here: Google "storytelling" and you'll find that three of the top 10 items mention Arizona, probably because Southwestern culture is based in the traditions of Native American storytellers and 19th-century cowboy poets.
These are not new forms, according to Liz Warren, faculty director at South Mountain Community College's Storytelling Institute. "Poets and storytellers have competed for millennia," she told me last week. "Lately, the form has been reanimated, partly in response to our reliance on electronic devices. People who are worried that we're spending too little face-to-face time have revived the art of public storytelling."
Read the full story on storytelling in this week's art section.