Understanding Life Through Stories

Tag: writing

At a Loss for Words: Writing in the Age of Trump

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, a song began circulating on social media. Written by Sara Bareilles for the This American Life podcast, and sung by Hamilton‘s Leslie Odom Jr., the song “Seriously” imagined Barack Obama’s perspective on his time in office and the future of the presidency, the words he cannot say aloud.

There’s a certain lyric that leaps to mind:

Angry? Am I angry? You ask, am I angry? And I’m at a loss for words.

For the character of Barack Obama, a man noted for his thoughtfulness and his powers of speech, to be at a loss for words in the face of Donald Trump’s rise to power is tremendous, and terrible. And it isn’t a stretch to think the real Barack Obama often feels the same way about all that’s happening.

I certainly do.

Storytelling: A Musical Guide

Christian Borle as Will Shakespeare in Something Rotten <
So for this first post, I thought I’d do something fun.
Musical theater is for me a powerful form of storytelling. It is live and in your face, it is imaginative and experimental, and it requires a contract of sorts with your audience in a way that books and film don’t. As the Doctor of Doctor Who once said,
Oh yeah, but the theatre’s magic, isn’t it? You should know. Stand on this stage, say the right words with the right emphasis at the right time. Oh, you can make men weep.
So often in fiction we see writers writing about writers, or the art of storytelling in general. Think of Shakespeare in Love or Becoming Jane for example. This is no different with theater writers. And musical theater writers get to do it not just with words, but with song.
Storytelling in fiction is of course different from telling about yourself or your company from a business standpoint. But not as different as you think. The stories we’ve read from the time we were children shape us, they give us a vehicle with which to reflect on and share our own stories.
To me, these songs speak to the importance of telling your story  – the triumphs and the pitfalls, the ways we understand our life story in the scheme of stories we love. So take a listen, and see what you can learn:

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