This last March, I attended a workshop with Elizabeth Ellis. The number of attendees was limited to eight, so it was more than a workshop, as it became an intimate gathering of soon-to-be friends. After the discussion/introduction part of the first day, Elizabeth told of the agenda she had in mind and what she planned for us to “walk away with” at the end of the workshop.
As she told about herself, career, family, and travels, we absorbed the wisdom, insight, humor, and strength that defined a storyteller divine there in our midst.
It was decided that we would each tell one story. Elizabeth would takes notes throughout a telling, and then give feedback that was beyond critique. She embraced the stories, responding with personal insight to the tale and the teller. It became clear, after a couple of us told, that I was receiving generous and provocative feedback, not just for my story, but for 1 x 8! Because of the in depth responses, I could easily put myself in the place of any of the other 7 tellers and receive quality advice and praise as it was expressed. And in addition, each teller was invited to offer feedback to the presenting teller, which led to more reflection from Elizabeth in response.
Throughout the Friday afternoon – Sunday afternoon workshop, Elizabeth delighted us with stories as well as wisdom…..which sometimes came wrapped tightly together. I just had the opportunity to hear Elizabeth in concert at the Sierra Storytelling Festival, and it was so obvious to me, having experienced the workshop three months earlier, how authentic her stories are and how true she is to the guidance that she offered each and every one of us. I look forward to the next time I have the opportunity to attend a workshop with her again.
BZ Smith and friends, we tell stories in and around Sonora, CA