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Kitty Kaping: My Awesome Storytelling Mentor

I recently started telling personal narrative stories for the stage, because I have a gifted and passionate storyteller as my personal mentor. I’ve watched my daughter Kriya perform engaging, heartfelt and funny personal stories for years, and I’m one proud mama. However, I never considered telling a personal story, as I always saw myself as a singer. Five years ago, Kriya gently nudged me to take a storytelling workshop that culminated in a 10-minute performance. It was scary and exhilarating!

Kriya and I come from a family of natural storytellers. It was always our family tradition to tell stories around the dinner table. I sang in musicals, with choirs and small groups, and wrote and performed my own songs, but telling a personal story to an audience was a new experience. So, when I was preparing my first story, Kriya’s advice was that the most important thing in telling a personal story is to remember it’s mine. If I happened to lose track of my story during the telling, I could always come back to the tale, because it’s mine to tell. This guidance helped calm my nerves, knowing I didn’t have to memorize or tell my story exactly as I had written it.

The next best piece of advice she gave me was to be authentic. She says people can relate to a story that feels real because they can walk inside your story when they recognize a piece of it in their own. With that said, my mother taught me what her mother had taught her, “never air your dirty laundry in front of the neighbors.” So, telling an honest story that might make me appear “less than”, is still a challenge. Yet I do believe it’s important to let down your mask, so people can see and experience the real you.

Since joining the Portland Storytelling Guild three years ago, I have learned so much about the creative art of storytelling through attending their fun and interactive workshops, and by watching master tellers on stage. I’m really excited to tell a personal story with my daughter Kriya, of a time and an experience we had together. We will tell the tale as true as possible, though we may remember it differently.

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