Article by: Mariel Guzman
Photographs collated by Sung Yun Bae
From the beginning of time, stories have played an important role in humans’ cultural development. All the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the news media we hear, and, most importantly, the books we read today were created to tell us a story. Through storytelling, we are able to define our values, desires, and dreams, and are able to express who we are to the rest of the world. Many sources say that the first stories date back to 15,000 BC, through cave paintings. Others think the tradition started with Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian story that spread through Europe and Asia in 700 BC. We may never know the true origins of storytelling, but some experts think that storytelling evolved from the excuses humans use after experiencing failure.
Throughout humankind’s history, storytellers have held well-respected positions in their communities, all due to an ability to catch people’s attention and relate gripping, heroic tales from the past. In today’s world, storytellers like musicians, actors, writers, politicians, and priests are still revered because they can rouse large groups of people.
Storytelling is prominent even within the ISM community. Our school is filled with great student speakers who can captivate their audiences through a mixture of confidence and eloquence. There is even a club for these silver-tongued figures: the Forensics League. And within this League is a speaking event that takes storytelling to a whole new level. Oral Interpretation, renowned for transforming a storyteller into the story itself, achieves its magic through voice acting. Students tell their stories through the voices of each character, including both the author’s voice and their own. According to Malvika Subramaniam, an OI finalist in last year’s IASAS culturalconvention, Oral Interpretation enhances one’s appreciation of stories and language. As a child, she was able to learn more about her culture through storytelling, and now realizes that actually becoming a storyteller reveals the “essence of a story and gives you more insight into what an author is trying to say with the piece.”
The evolution of storytelling is an amazing story on its own. The innovations and refinement involved in this art form, from the written word to musical instruments to the CGI (computer generated imagery) in every blockbuster, speak to humans’ determination, creativity, and solidarity. As sociologist Arthur Frank believes, “Stories may not actually breathe, but they can animate.” And how? Through us, through our voices, because each of us has the ability to tell a story, inspire someone, and change everything.