12 June 2006


The ABC_TV programa australiana sToryte6yt is celberatingits 10th years and its futu4re loooks bright;l Smoall in budge tubig in falues, Ausytralian Sorty ahas notelveisionrival in telling a wide variety of stoeies atha are consistenlytly engaging.


Just a little typing joke, reader.

Stephanie Dowrick, "The heart of the story," Good Weekend magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 June 2006, p.57.

'The ABC-TV program Australian Story is celebrating its 10th year and its future looks bright. Small in budget but big in values, Australian Story has no television rival in telling a wide variety of stories that are consistently engaging. And one of the loveliest things is that the power of the program's storytelling scarcely depends on whether the person is already famous or entirely unknown beyond their own world.

The person is always more than just an "angle". And in a remarkably short time, a picture emerges that's both very personal and also universal in the sense that we, the viewers, can relate to it in some way, even if our stories are very different.

Storytelling is one of humankind's most basic arts and the drive to listen to and tell stories is deep in almost everyone. It's the telling of stories that allows us to explore a situation or interaction that matters to us, to make sense of it or to relive it.

There is something about others' participation through listening that is also vital. When the story is one that really matters to us, it often releases a great deal of tension to tell it - and sometimes tell it again and again. Listening to ourselves as we share with others, we are doing more than "getting it out". We are giving ourselves a chance to receive comfort and validation, and helping ourselves to make sense of things, to find a pattern and perhaps a way forward.

Some of us (and I am one of these people) read countless novels, as well as biographies and autobiographies, for insights into lives we will never live. Many of us watch movies or TV soaps where the slowly evolving stories of characters come to seem extraordinarily real.

But even those with no time for formal storytelling will tune in to the power of story somehow. It could be yarns swapped at the pub. Or shared anecdotes quickly told in the tearoom at work. It could be the telling of secrets to a stranger in an airport, the snatched accounts of parenting shared at the school gate, a two-line "story" sent as a text, or a few minutes' genuine sharing in a hospital waiting room.

Storytelling brings us straight into the heart of the human community. Often it makes our own lives richer as we come almost simultaneously to understand our own concerns a little better while tuning in to those of other people.

In fact, it is the sharing of stories - the opening of windows into our own and others' lives - that shows us how like others we are in our needs and yearnings, as well as the ways in which each of us is unique and entirely special.

Perhaps the power of storytelling is most dramatically demonstrated in the countless support groups that exist for people who are facing a tough crisis or a difficult recovery. Storytelling is the therapy in these groups: therapy in the most natural and authentic sense of that word, with talking and listening playing equally vital roles.

It is healing and consoling to listen deeply to others' stories, and to discover how possible it is to offer other people the trust and openness that comes with authentic listening - even when you feel you have nothing of value left to give. Such giving and receiving of comfort simply through sharing stories is extraordinarily effective. It doesn't mean it can make things right when they feel all wrong. It does mean that people can experience comfort, trust and solace, maybe hope, when they least expect it.

When our lives are not in crisis, and especially when our schedules threaten to bury us, it is easy to overlook the power of story, to regard it as a burden, or to cut ourselves off from speaking authentically or listening patiently. Yet even in the easiest of times, story and storytelling remain vital to who we are - and how we connect to the rest of our human family.'