Sean Buvala interviews Caleb Winebrenner who was a first-time attendee at a National Storytelling Network's Summer Conference. They talk about Caleb's impressions of the conference and a bit about the integration of storytelling in community building. You can find the audio link below the transcript.
You can hear the entire interview in the link ("Part 1") down below the transcript. Keep on scrolling for more!
Voiceover: (music) You've just entered the Storyteller.net Amphitheater. (music ends)
Sean Buvala: Hey folks! Sean Buvala talking to Caleb Winebrenner. Hey, how are you?
Caleb Winebrenner: I'm doing well, Sean. How are you?
SB: Good, that's good. Okay, you are, let's see, you are one of our young bloods, you are mid-twenties, yeah?
CW: ...yes, sir..
SB: ...and this is the first time you have been to an NSN conference. So, what do you think?
CW: This is....awesome! And it is overwhelming and it is a lot to soak in...
CW: ...and I am so glad it is down the street from my house.
SB: Yeah, we are really close. Yeah, it being in the Valley for both of us. So you are close to....you are not staying here, you are going home.
CW: No, I am going home.
SB: So, it is overwhelming. What does that mean for you? What's...what are you thinking, man?
CW: Well, I am a new teller and so I have come here very much in learning mode for a lot of it. The conversations are just as rich and dense as the workshops. So, you go to a workshop and you are like, "Oh, my god! I learned so much. How am I going to process everything I could do with that information?" Then you go talk to your friend and they give you other ideas and you're like, "Oh!" It is so much but it is so great. I mean, the thing that I love most about the storytelling community, they are people that I am on Facebook with or I have talked to them on list-serves. I've never met them in person, but they walk up and they are like, "Hey, it's Caleb!" and they hug me and I am like, "Hey, it's Karen Chace!" or whoever these people are. Because...they know me and they support me and they want the young people here.
CW: So, I can just sit at their feet and be like, tell me everything. (both laugh) Even at the end of the day, "Oh, my god. I am not going to remember everything they said."
SB: No, you are not going to remember everything they said and that is okay. It is more experiential anyway. I think what you are also discovering is what a lot of us know is that sometimes the best stuff happens in the hallways (laughs). You know?
CW: Yeah. One of my best conversations earlier today...I was sitting and talking with Simon Brooks...
SB: Yeah, I know Simon...
CW: ...after his workshop. And, he and Karen were going over some of the feedback from their workshop. They didn't understand what one of the feedback forms said. It wasn't my feedback form, but I was, I noticed the same thing. So, I explained it to him. And we ended up having this really interesting conversation where the tables were turned because here it is Simon Brooks, man, and he is asking my actual opinion (both laugh), learning from me and taking notes. Then, he just gives me one of his CDs, which, what am I going to do with that? I am going to take it home and I am going to listen to it until it breaks, and I am going to learn from him everything I hear him do on the CD. There is just so much knowledge sharing. There was no formal structure for that. There was just generosity and mutual support.
CW: I don't know if that answer made any sense because I am really tired, but....
SB: You are doing fine. It's late and, you know, these are casual conversations. That is cool. If you had to say, out of the formal stuff that you have attended today, workshops and stuff. Is there anything that really sticks in your head....that you are taking away and going, "Oh, man. This is like actionable content for me?"
CW: Yeah, both workshops that I attended today just blew my mind.
SB: So, you went to Karen and Simon's "Branding" workshop and what else did you do?
CW: I also did Elaine Murray's. She did a workshop called "The Prism of Performance." I do so much physical theater and she took all the stuff....like a lot of it was stuff I already knew...but she rearranged it in a way that I never thought about it before. I love that she called it "the prism of performance" because I do feel like she totally refracted out everything that I knew and analyzed it in new ways. I have so much, so much stuff I want to go home and practice for my own repertoire, based on what she said there. So it is not so much doing new things as it is that I can totally fine-tune my storytelling to be that much better, based on what I saw and what I did today. That is a really cool feeling.
SB: You recently completed your master's (degree)?
CW: A couple of years ago.
SB: ....a couple of years ago. And what is your master's in?
CW: "Educational Theater in Colleges and Communities."
SB: Yeah. I see you have been doing some workshops and projects with that. Tell me...kind of give me the thousand-foot view of....
CW: So, basically what that means is two things. One, that means that I use theater and performance techniques, broadly speaking, as a toolbox for education. So, as an English teacher, I use theater and storytelling in my classroom. Leading workshops, I see theater games as very much educational tools, et cetera. The other main thrust of that is that not only is it a tool for education but, as I said it's educational theater in colleges and communities, the performing arts are a tool for community engagement...to try to build some of those bridges. Because...we live in a pretty fragmented world. Storytellers...I believe that storytellers have a role to try to repair the world, to have to build some of those bridges and try to change some of those things.
SB: We certainly heard that yesterday at the panel. We're you here for the panel yesterday?
CW: I was.
SB: Yeah, we certainly heard some of that. Certainly echoing, completely echoing, what you're saying. It's a tool for change in community.
CW: I feel really honored to be a new attendee and really new to the storytelling community, and yet, I am giving a workshop on those same things (on Sunday) because I apparently made...I impressed somebody with the things that I know.
SB: Well, you know, I think getting selected for workshops here is really about can you put your thoughts together in a good order. I mean, it's a good application form here and I think it is good for presenters because they ask you to really nail everything out. So, you did that and people saw that and saw the value in that. You did the right work and then people said that, "This is something that will contribute to the community." It's a group of people who make the decisions. People said that this man's got this, you know. What is the title of your workshop?
CW: "Performing Community: Youth Storytelling and Play-Building."
SB: That is Sunday morning. That should be very interesting. Excellent.
CW: I am excited.
SB: So, tomorrow is Saturday. Is there anything in particular that you really are kind of looking forward to tomorrow, in tomorrow's set?
CW: I don't remember which performances which I was planning on going to. I do remember that Mary Hamilton is giving a workshop on...
SB: ...tomorrow morning...
CW: ...on storytelling with the Common Core with grades K through eight (editor's note: working with children ages 6 through 13 in a classroom setting). I just found out, earlier this week, that I am now going to be a seventh-grade teacher, so I am going to.
CW: ...so I will be moving into that K through eight range....
CW: ...and can be using storytelling in the classroom. So....I'm...I'm really looking forward to what the future has in store for me because I am starting to find my groove as this is the way I want to teach, this is how I want to teach, this is how I want to market and brand my work. I guess a closing thought would be that the conference has done so much to accelerate that process. I was already on that journey...
SB ....sure you are...
CW: ...and now I am here at the conference and I am able to focus in on some of those questions.
SB: Listen. Welcome and it is glad to see you, good to see you here. Your energy is contagious about this. So, it is very cool. So, thanks for talking to me.
CW: No problem. Thank you.
SB: Talk to you later.
Voiceover: You've been listening to the Storyteller.net Amphitheater. All rights reserved. No part of whole may reproduced. No part or whole may be reproduced in any manner for any reason without the express written permission of Storyteller.net.
(TRANSCRIPT Ends. Any trade-names used in this recording or transcript should be considered editorial in nature and not an endorsement by or endorsement of Storyteller.net)
You can hear the entire interview by clicking on the link ("Part 1") below. Want more interviews from this event? We've posted a list at this link here.