Finding Your Inner Storyteller with Christiane Brew
Around 20 women gathered to Tokyo Chapter on chilly February night, ready to release their inner creative storyteller. During the night, actress, coach, and master communicator Christiane Brew led the group through fun improv exercises, and lots of laughs ensued.
Christiane Brew, who is trained in several schools of improv, has extensive experience of performing both in improv and scripted plays on stage around the world. She helps people to discover new ways to communicate via improv lesson like the one FEW was happy to share.
“We are telling lots of stories in our daily life, but are we telling the right stories? Can we tell better stories?”, Christiane asks the audience.
Not many of the participants raised a hand when asked if they were a good storyteller, but Christiane says it’s possible to get better.
Warming up and Getting Everyone on Board
First all the participants share a warming-up exercise: everyone forms a big circle, and pass a clap through it – easy. Next step is to make word associations from previous person’s words – still quite easy, and first laughs appear.
Then the two are combined so that the claps and the words circle in opposite directions – now it’s getting difficult, and the longer the game goes on, the words disappear among the laughs. In the end everyone’s so confused that the game stops spontaneously.
“What did you do when you noticed that there was no clap from the person next to you? Yes, you start a new one, even if the clap is not coming – this is how cooperation works!”, Brew explains the idea behind the exercise.
Supportive Peers Help You Succeed
Next participants divide into small groups, and start listing alphabets in turns. This is easy, as expected, so the next challenge is to list them backwards from Z to A, while chanting a inner mantra in their heads: “I will fail”. Suddenly room turns very quiet, with everyone concentrating in the exercise.
As this turned out to be difficult, next Brew asks participants to repeat the exercise, but switch their inner mantra to “I want you to succeed”. This time groups are able to finish the task relatively easily. The exercise gives everyone strong evidence that a supportive environment is an important factor for success.
Telling Stories That People Want to Listen
Done with the warming-up, the participants are ready for some real storytelling. First Brew asks for a story topic. She receives “Pandora’s Box”. She tells a very basic story about a girl named Pandora finding a box of chocolates sent by grandma when she comes back from school.
Next Brew asks someone to volunteer to help her to tell a better story – the volunteers would shout words that first come into their minds in the middle of storytelling, and Brew implements those into the story. This time Pandora ends up at a disco at a retirement home – even though the beginning of the story was exactly the same as the first time.
After Brew’s example, participants pair up and create their own stories with the other person suggesting words. Everyone was having so much fun that no one heard when Brew tried to move on to the next topic.
The last exercise concentrated on helping people extend and deepen their stories without dwelling on too much detail. This time, a volunteer participant was in charge of telling the story with Brew asking her to extend, fast forward, or be more descriptive – resulting in Godzilla having lunch in Midtown!
“You have to be in the moment and pay attention to be able to tell stories the other party wants to hear. Look for mutual joy”, Brew shares as her conclusion to the lively night.
FEW would like to thank Christiane Brew for an inspiring and fun session and the delicious food from Kiwi Kitchen. If you’d like to receive information on future FEW events, please subscribe to our newsletter through this link.