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"Fabulous, fantastic, heartening, deep, nourishing and very vital to our lives!"—Annie Hart, Blue Bell, PA

Storytelling as a Dangerous Adventure

A Workshop led by Doug Lipman
Fully guaranteed! You must feel that this workshop gave you just the help you need - or I'll refund your entire tuition!

 

Will you be one of the eight
to travel to Medford, MA,
and learn this way to keep in touch with the big picture of your storytelling and create the big life you want—
in Doug's unique office/library
before he closes it down in December, 2004?

(Note: At the end of December, 2004, I moved to Oklahoma. As of July 2009, I now live in Marshfield, MA)

(photo: Doug in his Medford, MA office, 1985)

 

 

On some mornings, I wake up feeling that storytelling is a high calling, with the power to transform individuals, organizations, and, ultimately, society. On those days, I feel energized, patient, and "on the beam."

Other days, I feel like Sisyphus, rolling the same rock uphill for eternity, only to watch it tumble down again each night. Storytelling seems so unappreciated. Irrelevant. Futile. Marginalized. Those days, I'm too tired to return a phone call.

One day it dawned on me: those two feelings are, in some ways, related! The very power of art makes it go upstream against powerful currents. Part of my discouragement is because of storytelling's relevance and effectiveness. Storytelling is hard, sometimes, precisely because it's dangerous.

"The workshop was fantastic--ideas flying, stories bubbling, lots of new bravery and determination. Regina said as we were picking up, "I think I forgot how really good he is." - Ab Logan, storyteller & Chair of the English Department, Boys Latin School, Baltimore, MD

How Is Storytelling Dangerous?

Like any art, storytelling is potentially dangerous to inertia, to injustice, and to institutions that limit human potential. It is dangerous because it is such a powerful vehicle for communicating truth, possibility, and yearning.

No society will reward artists for challenging any of its false, misleading, or limiting assumptions. Instead, it will make things uncomfortable for those who pursue what they most deeply believe to be true about people and our world.

Of course, there are other reasons that might cause my sense of struggle. But this reason is not a sign of my individual difficulties. It's a sign of my potential success.

"I came away far more committed to achieving what I really want... I am getting more accomplished and [am] really nurturing relationships with my peers." - Connie Dodge, professional storyteller, Atlanta, GA

Could We Get Help with This?

Once I recognized the condition in myself, I began to recognize it in others: what sometimes seems like a clear path, occasionally (okay, often) can seem like pushing an inflatable raft upstream. The route to artistic power suddenly seems presumptuous, foolish, or even irresponsible.

It's a little like dancing your heart out, then stopping to look around at the sedate dances of others. Oops! Am I doing this wrong?

Unfortunately, finding your path of strength isn't as simple as reflexively dancing different steps (or, for that matter, the same steps) as everyone else. It involves getting in touch with something deep, then building a support system (both internal and external) that helps you stay on that path with depth. And it involves deciding which path makes the most sense, when you arrive at a crossroads.

Necessarily, the path will sometimes seem exhilarating and sometimes seem very uncomfortable. Discomfort isn't good in itself, but facing discomfort can be necessary to being your biggest self.

Having realized all this, I knew that a workshop was needed. I offered a session of the Storytelling Workshop in a Box on this topic. In response, Karen Dietz, corporate consultant, storyteller, and - now - Executive Director of the National Storytelling Network, said, "Please give a long-weekend workshop on this topic. If you do, I'll attend!"

"Outstanding. The one thing that really impressed me was the 'safe' environment established for the workshop. I felt comfortable sharing my inner self without fear of negative feedback or comments. That atmosphere allowed me to 'dig deep' into myself to find out what the real reason was for my hesitation in growing creatively. I was greatly inspired to continue to grow, and the workshop turned out to be a great affirmation for me as a storyteller." - Gladys Varga, professional storyteller, Tampa FL

The First Workshop on Embracing Danger

So, last February I offered the first workshop on this topic, in California. It was a great success. As a result, I'm offering it again in Medford, MA (near Boston), in November, 2004. (Note: I now live in Marshfield, MA)

This workshop is about claiming your true path as a storyteller - and creating what you need in your storytelling life, to be able to stay on that path, even when it challenges your fears, your insecurities and your preconceptions.

It's based on the idea that storytelling is dangerous, but that no two people share the same vision or the same path. Or face the exact same obstacles. Or need the exact same help.

As a result, this workshop will help you decide for yourself which forms of "comfort" serve you well, and which ones limit you. It will help you (with your unique constellation of abilities, passions, and resources) focus on the points of greatest leverage for realizing your truest storytelling vision.

"I used what I learned to take an honest look at myself, at my business, at my business partnership and to take the bold steps needed to seek, create and maintain my vision.

"What can I say? It's had a huge impact. I'm energized and scared, but know that I'm on the right path." - Audrey Galax, video historian and storyteller, Atlanta, GA

What pieces of truth about the human condition have the potential to speak out through your stories (either the stories you tell or the ones you evoke from others)?

Where do those pieces of truth put you at odds with powerful forces in our society?

Where do you hide something essential about yourself?

How could you strategize, gather resources, and take action in those areas, in a way that would give you the most interesting and invigorating storytelling life?

Get the help you need, to become the artist you can become.

I'll lead you in exercises to evoke images to help guide you. I'll give you a series of frameworks in which to contemplate the unique definition of "storyteller" that will best suit you.

You will learn:

  • The messages that, uncountered, can drain our storytelling of its power and how to neutralize them.
  • The difficulties we assume to be our fault but that are actually caused by the society's attitudes toward artists.
  • How to use your storytelling to be an excellent ally to those of us who were raised with fewer privileges than you.
  • How to care for yourself while embracing artistic danger.
  • How to overcome the emotional difficulties that stop too many artists, while staying in touch with the wellsprings of your art.
  • What security to pursue and seven key techniques for building it.
  • How to turn competition with other artists into cooperation.
  • How to recognize which forms of comfort assist your artistic journey and which ones sabotage it.
  • How to be unstoppable in carving out your true path and have more fun than ever!

I'll coach you on whatever pieces of this puzzle you most want my help with.

Together, we will treat your storytelling, not as a "play it safe" art nor as a set of skills - but as a grand adventure that dares to be risky in order to seek the most magnificent destinations.

"I have been exploring the field of coaching for about a year now and until I worked with you, I was pretty much disillusioned about the field. My experience has been that most coaches are working at very cognitive levels and are not skilled at addressing the deep emotional issues that block people from achieving their goals.  Your ability to empower both healing and action is a rare gem." - Margaret Saizan, corporate consultant, Baton Rouge, LA

"I learned to be aware of the oppressive forces around me and within me, and to look for support to 'Live outside the box!' I am carrying with me the question, 'What would you like in your world and how are you creating it?'—Wanna Zinsmaster, Pasadena, CA

 

My Farewell Workshop

This workshop will be held in my office/library in Medford, MA, just outside of Boston.

This is the last FAREWELL Workshop I will offer before I move from Massachusetts, Jan 1, 2005.

Why this workshop, of all the many I could offer? Two reasons:

  1. This workshop reveals the big picture ideas that underlie all my work as a storyteller, coach, marketer and human. Some of these ideas surface in other workshops. But only this workshop deals with them directly.
  2. This workshop is the most revealing of who I am at the core. My values. My understanding of how the world works and what we as storytellers can achieve—and are up against. In other words, you will learn foundation stones for my 35 years as a successful free-lance artist, coach, writer, and organizer of storytelling events and organizations.

So I want to leave Boston with this, which is simultaneously my most personal and most important workshop ever.

About My Office

This office has seen much of the history of the storytelling rivival in the 18 years I've been in it, such as:

  • Board meetings of Storytellers in Concert, whose members over the years included Judith Black, Jay O'Callahan, Lee-Ellen Marvin, Jennifer Justice, and others.
  • Jay O'Callahan's first "rehearsal concerts."
  • Board meetings for the Three Apples Storytelling Festival, started originally as an extension of Storytellers in Concert.
  • Many of my early classes in storytelling, with students who are now leaders in the Storytelling Revival in New England.

The workshop is limited to 8 attendees. Once these 8 slots are taken, the opportunity to take this workshop in my office before I close it down forever will be gone.

About the Area

Not only is the immediate setting a part of storytelling history, the larger setting is filled with U.S. history. You'll be in Medford, MA, near the fabled river that Lydia Maria Childs memorialized in the song "Over the river and through the woods." This is the same town where "Jingle Bells" was written!


You'll also be a short bus ride from Boston, Cambridge, Harvard Square, and all the other sights of the Boston area—and you'll be there in time to catch the end of the legendary New England autumn. Stay another day and drive out to view the fall landscape.


Travel a couple miles to the Middlesex Fells Reservation, where you can breathe the crisp fall air as you walk some of the 50 miles of hiking trails. In short, you'll be in the midst of New England at its most beautiful time of year.

You'll have the options of staying in one of many local bed-and-breakfasts or hotels, or accepting home hospitality with local storytellers (subject to availability).


"Absolutely fabulous! If you're willing to do the work. This is not a light workshop, but an important one."—Karen Dietz, organizational consultant; folklorist; executive director, National Storytelling Network

November 5-8, 2004
Friday evening through Monday afternoon
Location: Medford, MA (Note: I now live in Marshfield, MA)
Limited to 8
Tuition: $425.
For lodging information, email .

Register now via the secure, on-line registration form.

Need More Info?

For housing info, click here. For info about travel or the content of the workshop, please or use my contact form.

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This page was last updated on March 12, 2011