The German Association „Erzählkunst e.V.“
The Association to promote the Art of Oral Storytelling
The age-old art of Oral Storytelling is experiencing a worldwide renaissance in times of digitalisation and migration. In Germany, the association “Erzählkunst e.V.” (Narrative Art) promotes this art-form by training professional storytellers, running a monthly open storytelling stage and realising storytelling projects in art and education.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is the smallest form of theatre.
Storytellers are authors, directors and actors all-in-one. Unlike in the theatre or literary readings, however, the narrators are not bound by a written text or stage directions, but interact freely with their audience. Storytellers manage without technology and stage design: At the centre of the art of narration is the human being, experienced through the senses.
Storytelling is the oldest performative art form
A human is a narrative being. In all cultures and for more than 4000 years, people have kept their common cultural identity alive through storytelling. Modern storytellers also draw on the ancient, originally oral traditions of mankind: they develop their stories from fairy tales, myths and legends from all over the world. This immaterial cultural heritage, recognised by UNESCO, deals with fundamental questions of human existence such as greed, betrayal, love and death. Contemporary storytelling brings traditional material into the present and makes it productive for the questions of today.
And: Oral Storytelling is entertaining and humorous!
Storytelling connects people – socially and culturally
It has been proven that oral storytelling promotes transcultural education, the transmission of values and language competence. Storytelling connects people from different social and cultural backgrounds.
Because storytelling reaches everyone: regardless of age, level of education or cultural background – stories connect all participants in a common creative process. Thanks to facial expressions and gestures, storytellers overcome language barriers and create imaginary worlds that are simultaneously created in the imagination of each individual listener.
Storytelling is highly topical
Today, in the digital age, it is above all the sensual presence in the here and now that creates the special magic of artistic storytelling: with language, body, heart and wit, storytellers enter into direct contact with the audience. Storytelling is pure presence, without technology, and thus a radical counterforce to digitalisation. The current renaissance of storytelling worldwide shows that there is a longing for this lively immediacy.
In view of global migration and growing social divisions, storytelling is also gaining in political significance – as a participatory, democratic and transcultural art form.
The German Association Erzählkunst e.V.
Founded in Berlin in 2007, the association “Erzählkunst e.V.” (Narrative Art) promotes artistic oral storytelling in art and education. More than 50 German-speaking storytellers and supporters from 15 nations are organised in the association.
The association “Erzählkunst e.V.” is characterised by a contemporary, politically committed self-image: Transcultural, multilingual storytelling is particularly close to our hearts, and we also expand traditional material with (auto-)biographical, historical and fictional stories.
“Erzählkunst e.V.” is a member of the Federation of Storytellers (VEE) and the Federation of European Storytelling (FEST).
It’s story time!
Since 2007 the association has been organising a monthly storytelling event in Berlin in the form of the Open Storytelling Stage. In the first part of the evening, the stage is open to anyone who wants to tell a story – whether traditional, from their own experience or invented. After the break, a renowned storyteller from the national and International storytelling scene gives a performance.
As the first regular storytelling event of its kind in Germany, the Open Storytelling Stage by “Erzählkunst e.V.” was awarded the label „European Year of Cultural Heritage“ by the EU in 2018.
In addition to its own oral storytelling stage, the Narrative Art Association is constantly conquering new venues. In Berlin, in particular, artistic oral storytelling can now be experienced in large and small theatres, museums and literary houses.
Education and Training
The association has set itself the task of qualifying storytelling artists and teaches the basic skills of artistic storytelling in the annual course „Oral Storytelling“. The participants learn narrative techniques, engage with fairy tales and myths from all over the world and at the end, they can tell a story of their choice in a free, lively and exciting way for an audience. The course, which lasts one year and has a great demand, has been run by the association since 2007. An advanced course for experienced storytellers has been available since 2019.
Additionally, the association organises workshops with renowned storytellers such as Daniel Morden, Clare Murphy, Ben Haggarty among others.
Storytelling Projects in Art and Education
The association “Erzählkunst e.V.” initiates storytelling projects in art and education, for children and adults, on large theatre stages and in small neighbourhood centres.
In our educational work with children, our focus is on transcultural storytelling: in day-care centres, schools and refugee housing centres, our storytelling projects empower children, especially those with a migration background, and help to ensure their voices are heard. As academic evaluation of the association’s long-term projects has shown: storytelling creates a sense of community and promotes self-esteem, imagination and empathy. In short: Storytelling is powerful – and fun!
Documents in English:
Storytelling with Refugees at School, by Kristin Wardetzky download
Evaluation of the Berlin Storytelling Project „ErzählZeit“ download