For some it’s music, for others it’s a certain movie genre, there are those who obsess over fashion, and grown-men (and women) who lose their mind playing video games. For me, it’s stories. Non-specifically and pretty much without exclusion, storytelling is one of my favourite things. It also forms the basis of all the aforementioned hobbies and touches pretty much everything that we humans do, think and feel.
Storytelling has been around for thousands of years, long before the first book was published but also thousands of years before the first Greek tragedy was ever told.
The earliest evidence of storytelling was uncovered in the 1940s by a group of French school children.
The children discovered a series of cave drawings in the Lascaux Caves of the Pyrenees Mountains. The drawings are of extinct animals and are over 35,000 years old.
Since then, many other ancient examples of early storytelling have been found. And these are only the earliest discoveries of recorded storytelling – we can only guess how far back spoken stories or physical stories date.
Throughout history, Storytelling has shaped and shifted society – both within local communities and on a worldwide scale.
What started as accounts of hunting and day-to-day survival for our primitive ancestors, gradually evolved into what we know today - and what an evolution it has been.
Afterall, without storytelling we would know nothing of gods. Imagine that? Whatever you believe, spiritual or otherwise, imagine a world completely untouched by religious beliefs. Beliefs are defined as something that we accept to be true – with or without first-hand experiences and proof. Beliefs are stories that individuals and collectives interpret as fact rather than fiction.
As well as the heavy stuff, heroes, villains, fairy tales and mythology would not exist without storytelling; – modern culture, as we know and love it, would be completely devoid of the very stuff that gets us through life! Besides the recordings and retellings of historic events – accurate or otherwise, without storytelling we would also be without the various mediums through which we receive stories. Strip away storytelling and you have no books. No music. No theatre. No video games. No film or television – no Netflix!
You have no mega movie stars, no fairies, no cartoons at breakfast time, no Animal Crossing or Minecraft, no Princess and Pirate fancy dress parties, no karaoke, no Mickey Mouse - no Disney World at all.
Society has not simply survived, in part because of storytelling; it has learned, evolved and flourished.
Storytelling affects all of us, every day. It is our link to the past, our hopes and ideas for the future and our escape from the present. Storytelling provides a playground for our imagination, and it is accessible to absolutely everyone. Stories can be told in a myriad of ways – anything that involves a sharing of thoughts and experiences is storytelling.
Simply put, to be human, is to be a storyteller.