Ms Piret Päär
ABOUT STORYTELLING IN ESTONIA
Throughout history, storytelling has helped people to connect themselves with the surrounding world and community. The experiences, knowledge and value judgements necessary for survival are related through stories. Opportunities for storytelling were provided by joint work and pastimes, amusements, long hikes and journeys and military service. It was believed that storytelling influenced the successfulness of hunting, fishing, herding and farming. The long, dark autumn-winter period was considered the most suitable time for telling stories in Estonia. Time was found for recreational storytelling year-round.
The time of large families and joint work and other activities has gradually come to an end. The company of television, radio or the press are preferred to togetherness and conversation. In village society the recounting of stories was the inevitable result of social interaction. In today's increasingly individual-centered society, storytelling may help us better to understand ourselves - who we are and who we could be. In the contemporary mass-entertainment-oriented cultural scene, it is necessary once again to make people aware of the importance of the storytelling tradition and the need to tell and share stories. Through stories we reflect our ideas, emotions, behaviour, value judgements and identity. In addition to the loss of traditional story material, there is a great danger that mankind is losing its biographical means of expression, images of life and overall picture of life.
Pictures are received in ready form from television, although that is merely a passive series of alien pictures. By telling our own stories, we can offer someone else experiences, knowledge and also spiritual support. Listening to others' stories helps one to revive pictures that one has been unable either to remember or arrange.
Today we have other opportunities for telling stories.
In addition to teaching, the Storytelling School is also involved with the general advancement of the storytelling movement in Estonia.We have told stories at folklore events, community centres, museums, kindergartens and schools - to both children and adults. We have transcribed texts from the collections of the Estonian Folklore Archives and attempted to take them back to the same places from where they were once gathered. Frequent and close co-operation has developed with folk musicians, the purpose of which is not just a concert experience in which stories are told between music and singing. Our desire at such gatherings is to encourage the listeners to notice, listen and tell stories, if not at that same moment and in that same room, then at home, among friends, etc.