Meet the Contributors: Wajuppa Tossa

Book Chapter: How To Be A Storyteller Across Language Barriers

Her Thoughts: Wajuppa Tossa states that she was not a storyteller until she met and worked with Dr. Margaret Read MacDonald in a project to engender pride in local dialects in northeast Thailand (Isan). In the project, she translated stories from English into Lao, the language spoken by most people in Isan.

After a year of working together with Dr. MacDonald, Wajuppa Tossa was confident enough to call herself a storyteller. Working with a master storyteller is the quickest way to become a good storyteller. In the translation, one must try to capture the emotional expressions of the teller of the original language. One of the most important keys is to be able to practice as many times as possible. The teller and the translator must have a good rapport to make each performance works.

One of the most effective ways of telling stories with a translator is to incorporate a few words of the second language in the telling. If storytellers are in the situation where there is no translator and to make the audience understand the story, gestures with a few words could help.

Finally, as a storyteller, one needs to be observant, to learn some words or phrases to use, and to use voices, facial expressions, and gestures in telling. With all or some of these, language is no longer a barrier and the storytelling will be successful.

See Dr. Tossa peform a story using a translator:

Dr. Wajuppa Tossa, holds a B.Ed. (English) and a M.Ed. (English Language and Literature) from Srinakharinwirot University, Prasanmitra, with a Ph.D. (English and American Literature) from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, USA, teaches at Mahasarakham University Thailand since 1978. She tells stories to revitalize Thai/Lao folktales and storytelling tradition. She has performed and given workshops on folktales and storytelling in USA, Australia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Wajuppa’s books include Phadaeng Nang Ai and Phya Khankhaak, the Toad King (1990,1996), Lao Folktales (2008) and parts of Telling Tales of Southeast Asia and Korea (2011).

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Meet the Contributors: Leslie Slape

Book Chapter: How to be a Storyteller in the Courtroom

Leslie Slape Storytelling for AttorneysHer Reflections: A judge once said to me, “I think attorneys should be required to learn storytelling as part of their training, don’t you agree?” I have wanted to make the suggestions in this book chapter ever since he made his comment many years ago. He has said it to me several times. Although he’s retired now after a long career in the law, his insight carries a lot of weight with me.

I believe storytelling can be used anywhere. In the courtroom, it’s not only a good tool for the closing statement, as I suggest in my chapter, but it makes for the most evocative witness testimony.

Feel free to adapt these suggestions in my chapter to your personal style. Use what works for you and toss what doesn’t. Naturally I can’t guarantee you’ll win. But as we tellers like to say: Never underestimate the power of story.

Leslie Slape fell in love with storytelling and folklore as a little girl. In one way or another she has been telling stories all her life. In addition to telling professionally, she is also a playwright and theatrical stage manager/director. By by day she works as a newspaper journalist. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Max, on the farm where they raised their two now-grown children.

Learn more about her work at

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Meet the Contributors: Nat and Jen Whitman

Book Chapter: How to be a Storyteller In the Classroom

How to be a storyteller in a classroom situation with Nat and Jen Whitman. Book Excerpt: Storytelling is one of our oldest teaching techniques. For ages, story has been used to teach children the values their culture holds dear and to pass on the history of their people. The story form connects with our human brains and allows us to learn new content in an enjoyable manner. Today, we can harness this power of story in our classrooms. Stories can help us reach students with concepts central to our curriculum, while allowing children to joyously play with language, music, and movement. Don’t let your students miss out on the delight of sharing a good story. Once you experience the rapt engagement that a story draws from your students, you will want to use stories every day!

Jen and Nat Whitman are storytellers and international educators who have been performing as a tandem-storytelling team for over fifteen years. Jen and Nat specialize in sharing lively, audience-participation folktales with family audiences. They weave rhythm, music and motion into their performances and encourage listeners to jump up and join in the fun! Originally from the United States, Jen and Nat have taught in schools in Hong Kong, Germany, and Thailand. They are passionate about using storytelling in the classroom and are currently co-authoring a book with Margaret Read MacDonald called, Teaching With Story.

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Meet the Contributors: Leeny del Seamonds

Book Chapter: How to be a Storyteller by Bringing Your Characters to Life.

Her Thoughts: As little girls, my sister and I had a favorite game: playing dress up. That was a tradition that continued until we were preteens and beyond. We never grew tired of donning various outfits from our parents’ discarded clothing and accessories stored in a large trunk in the basement.

I loved pretending to be someone else and was fascinated by the various components that helped me experiment in bringing a person to life. I’d create a mental scenario of who that individual. Were they rich, poor, smart, kind, mean, ugly or pretty? What did he or she do for a living? How did that person look and behave? What kind of walk and mannerisms did he or she have? I pondered most about what type of voice this individual could have: high and screechy, deep and booming, soft and gentile, creepy, scary, melodic, loving, or silly?

Halloween was always a favorite holiday because my birthday is at the end of October. All my birthday parties were costumed events. Our costumes were never store bought. They were either sewn by our mother or grandmother or fashioned from various clothing pieces, hats, shoes, ties, belts, pocketbooks, and jewelry found in the basement trunk. And with every homemade costume came a set of concocted character traits to complement the outfit.

My love of “trying on” different characters and pretending to be someone different than myself has been a lifelong passion and is, in part, why I became an actor. As an adult, I still love becoming someone else. In Theatre, when a character is crafted for a play or musical, costuming plays a vital part and aids the actor in getting into the role of that character. In storytelling, the rewards are even richer as we often portray more than one character in a story. Storytellers don’t stop in the middle of their story to don clothing pieces for each character being depicted. Rather, determining what each persona may look like, sound, move and gesture is a huge step in creating unique and distinct characters. It’s like playing dress up, without the costumes and accessories. For me, this is fun stuff and I hope you’ll agree!

Leeny Del Seamonds, Master Story Performer™, is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed performer of Latino, original and world tales spiced with mime, palpable characterizations, and love of people. A dedicated Teaching Artist with a BA in Theatre/Performing Arts (magna cum laude), Leeny encourages listeners to rejoice in cultural diversity, inviting them to share in her Cuban-American sense of humor and joy of performing. With passion, fire and wit, Leeny’s celebrated one-woman performances and renowned workshops headline events worldwide. See her website at for more information.

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