January 12, 2012

The Story Theater Retreat with Doug Stevenson

Back in 1996 a group of professional speakers asked me to teach them how to tell stories using my unique methodology. There was only one problem, I didn’t know I had a unique methodology.

They had just watched me perform my “Streaking Story” and noticed that I had acted out parts of the story instead of narrating them. They were interested in learning how I blended acting and narration.

Here’s the story about the story that led to the creation of Story Theater.

Back in 1974 I was involved in an acting group in Los Angeles called the Odyssey Theater Ensemble directed by Ron Sossi. It wasn’t a traditional scene study class like I was used to. We did all kinds of strange exercises designed to break us down, open us up and unleash our creativity. It was weird.

One night, we were given the assignment to choose a buddy and then go out into the community and do something we would never do. So my partner George and I decided to go streaking in Westwood. Well, we did. And we got arrested…naked. It was horrible and hilarious all at the same time.

I had always wanted to try my hand at stand-up comedy, so I decided that my streaking experience would be my comedy material. I went home and practiced telling the story before my stand-up debut at the famous Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip.

When my name was called, I stood at the microphone like everyone else and told my story. No one laughed. I bombed. I thought maybe it was a bad audience, so I signed up for amateur night at the Improv. Once again, no one laughed.

After bombing at five comedy clubs I gave up on stand-up and went back to acting in plays. Without a script and a character, I didn’t know how to be funny. Until 13 years later in Colorado Springs.

I was giving a presentation at my local library and out of the blue I started telling the streaking story. I hadn’t even thought about it in all that time. It was a totally spontaneous choice to tell the story. This time however, there was no microphone on a stand. I had room to move around.

I lit into my story with full abandon. I acted out getting undressed in the back of my 1962 Volkswagen bus with George. I acted out running down the street screaming and hollering like a naked lunatic. When the cop was arresting me, I stood there with my hands up as a crowd of people gathered around to see what was happening.

I didn’t just tell the streaking story, I went streaking! It was hilarious. People were laughing so hard tears were streaming down their faces.

As I was driving home from the library I was on top of the world. I was finally funny. Forget that, I was hilarious. The question running through my mind was, “what the heck just happened?”

I realized that the difference between failure in Hollywood and success in Colorado Springs was the parts where I acted it out. I didn’t just tell it, I re-lived it.

That was the genesis for Story Theater. Since that time, I’ve crafted all of my stories combining acting and narration in a way that seems to fascinate and engage my audiences. And that’s what my friends wanted me to teach them.

In 1996 I held my first Story Theater Retreat in Denver for 9 students. They loved it and so did I. Then I did another and another until the requests started coming in from around the country. I hosted retreats in 14 states. That led to retreats in England, Australia, Ireland and Germany.

As of January 2012, over 800 people have participated in approximately 90 retreats. I have tweaked and perfected the curriculum, limited each retreat to four people and brought the retreats home to my studio in Colorado Springs.

My students run the gamut from Senior VPs and Generals to Toastmasters and corporate trainers. I’ve coached Olympians, cancer survivors, Mt. Everest climbers and university presidents.

Everyone has a story to tell. Most people who come to me want to tell it better. Oftentimes, the story itself is so big and powerful that the student is intimidated by it. Others are simply stuck. They’ve gone as far as they can on their own and when they see me perform a story theater story, they see what the next level looks and feels like.

Story Theater combines acting with story structure in service of a business message or point. It’s a very strategic and disciplined approach to corporate storytelling. Perhaps you want to tell your story in a keynote setting as a professional speaker. Maybe you just want to be a more effective leader.

You don’t need to be an actor to master this method. The acting skills that I teach work for everybody from engineers and entrepreneurs to teachers and trainers. They’re easy to learn and incredibly effective and powerful.

When you’re ready to achieve your potential as a speaker and storyteller, the Story Theater Retreat will take you there. It will expand your comedic and dramatic range and allow you connect at a deep emotional level with your audience, customers or employees.

When you’re ready to consider the possibility that you can change people’s lives with your stories, call me. Your free 20 minute consultation is waiting.

Phone: 1-719-573-6195

Email me at: doug@dougstevenson.com

Twitter@DougStoryCoach

Website: www.storytelling-in-business.com

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