Striving Towards Excellence

By Cris Riedel, STF 2017 Workshop Presenter

We humans communicate in so many different ways, using such a variety of methods and styles.  We communicate with each other because we need to.  And the more effective we are at that expression, the better-  the better it feels, the better our relationships/art/daily life work.  Some of us are naturals at it — those ‘great orators,’ gifted speakers and tellers who draw everyone in and by whom we are entranced.

And underneath, there are skills.  Bill Harley addressed Sharing the Fire in 2010 on the nature of storytelling as a craft, and the need for skills training as part of that craft.

“Why aren’t we more accepted? What should we do? Some suggest better marketing,or branding, but I don’t think that’s it. I think, my friends,that the answer is that we have to work harder on our craft. Those of us who want to profess this art must strive even more towards excellence.” (

A couple of lifetimes ago, I was a stage actor, and studied a pile of crazy fun things– mime, stage combat, ballroom dancing—and voice.  Every day, for two years. I have a skill now, that responds to input from and exploration of the story.  Yes, there’s a bunch of do-them-over-and-over exercises.  But what results from that is the ability to discover and allow vocal expression that can be surprising and unpredictable, what exhilaration!  After skill development comes the creative make-noises playtime!

I taught voice at the SUNY Stony Brook Department of Theatre Arts  for a year, and have taught tellers from Buffalo’s Spin A Story Tellers, to OOPS, Sharing the Fire, and New York State Storytellers.  I always learn from teaching, and it’s such a reward to see people find their voices!  I’m newly retired–now come the storytelling adventures!

Want to hone your voice skills?  Sign up for Cris’s STF workshop

Voice of the Storyteller

from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday, March 25th. Visit the STF Conference Details page to register for the conference.

Have personal experience of your own to share on this topic? Leave a comment.

Cris Riedel at STF 2017Cris has been telling professionally for twenty-two years.  She has received grants supporting her summer performances ten years running from New York Council on the Arts/Livingston Arts.  With an MFA/acting, she spent ten years in theater. She holds an MLS (18 years with kids in libraries, now happily retired).

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