Nuala Hayes: Transformative, Immersive Storyteller

Storyteller, Nuala Hayes (Photo credit: Peter Dibdin)

Storyteller, Nuala Hayes
(Photo credit: Peter Dibdin)

A good story brings you somewhere that you hadn’t intended to go. Something happens, and a transformation takes place. It can be imaginative; it can be terrifying; it can make you uncomfortable. But a good story will always bring you safely home. ~ Nuala Hayes (The Irish Times)

Nuala Hayes is a Dublin based actor, storyteller and broadcaster. She founded Scéalta Shamhna, Dublin’s Storytelling Festival, and directed it for a decade. In anticipation of the Yarn Festival 2012 in Bray where Hayes recently performed, The Irish Times challenged her to explain how to tell a perfect story.

Hayes emphasized the importance of observing the audience because “the storyteller’s chief skill is to be tuned in to the emotions of her audience.”

Festival audiences are, says Hayes, a doddle; they come with an open mind and are already in the mood for a story. Faced with a room full of sceptical teenagers, on the other hand, she needs to work a bit harder. “If they’re used to all their imaginative experience coming from television or DVDs or film, which is often the case with kids, I explain to them that if you’re listening to a story, you’re part of it, and the story won’t work if you don’t take part. Once you explain that they’ll see the pictures in their minds, they get it.” (The Irish Times)

Hayes tidily illustrates the collaborative relationship between storyteller and audience which hinges upon deep listening and opens a narrative doorway. Behind the doorway lie mysterious adventures into which a good storyteller immerses you and then transports you safely back again.

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