We all know the power of story; the ability to connect a series of moments in space and time into a cohesive narrative that can engage, entertain and inspire an audience, a student or perhaps even a Board of Directors. As important as the content of a story is its architecture; the story arc – the pacing and delivery make or break even the most compelling content. Stories after all can be true or fantasy but it’s the telling of the tale and often the storyteller, that makes a story memorable and therefore great.
Nowhere is it more important to get the facts right than when telling the tales of History and nowhere is it easier to fall into the abyss of endless facts, figures, dates and names.
Telling tales of American History has been a lifelong passion of ours culminating in the musical drama “Four Part Harmony”, a show that tells the true stories of American POW’s and the heroic efforts of their wives to free them from captivity and torture in North Vietnam. Premiered by Virginia Repertory Theatre (then Theatre IV) in Richmond with additional work in NYC, the tale was told through music and stagecraft in a completely unique way. Heroes all, those remarkable men and women reminded us to tell the story; let the facts take care of themselves (they are after all: facts) but weave through, around and among those facts the fabric of story in a compelling, memorable and unforgettable way.
Not too many years ago I had the privilege of working with historical playwright Sal St. George and the brilliant Producer Sean Murray. We developed a piece of theater for Branson Missouri called “Celebrate America” that followed generations of one family from the founding of the Republic to today; no easy feat for a piece of commercial work but if among the thousands of people who saw the show, there are among them a handful of young people inspired and older folks made proud it’s because we framed the facts of history with a compelling, personal and memorable story.
So what’s your story? What are you trying to say? How can you deliver your message in way that’s unforgettable? Find your voice; or find someone else to be your voice. Craft the architecture of your presentation on the model of a story; carefully choose your words, chapter and verse but most of all remember to tell the tale.