Name: Diane Ferlatte
Country of Origin: USA
Tell us your story
I have been telling stories for over 30 years to audiences from preschoolers to senior citizens, and all age groups in between. I have told at every type of venue imaginable from the most humble to the most lavish. When you love to tell stories, no audience is too small. Since I love to include music and song, I am often accompanied by my musician Erik Pearson on banjo and guitar. How did you get into storytelling?
Reminiscing about the stories of my youth, I began to sing the spirituals and tell my children the stories I heard as a child. 35 years ago, I adopted a four year old who had been raised in a series of homes in front of a TV. In order to wean him from TV and get him to attend to the nightly reading and storytelling his sister so enjoyed, I had to return to my own childhood roots. I recognized how important those stories were and also began to share them with the community. Before long I was telling children at my church, then at local schools, then libraries throughout California, and now at storytelling festivals and other venues all over the world.
I more or less fell into it but I did have a background in music as well as some community theater work. In its presentation, performance storytelling can make use of so many art forms. The flexibility and variety of storytelling styles and forms contributes to its effectiveness and power.
What is your creative muse?
I don’t have a creative muse. But I think that the people around me in my culture make me think about certain stories. My eyes are always open to looking for stories. It’s about being open to any story that is good. I like to hear stories. I like to read stories. I’m just open to story. When I hear a story my ears perk up. And if it’s a really good story, I get really joyful. And I’m into music, into songs. I’m open to all parts of the oral tradition: song, music, and rhymes. I love it all. I also love sharing them when I can.
How has your storytelling journey been? Do share with us your highlights, the successes and the challenges.
I have been very fortunate in my storytelling journey. You can access my website for more information in that regard. Probably my biggest challenge is in creating and developing new material on a constant basis which can be demanding.
What key skills do you feel are a must have for a performance storyteller?
I think the most important key skills are the ability to recognize when a story is meaningful, the ability to bring that story to life, and the ability to connect with your audience, which of course includes stage presence.
If you were not a storyteller, what would you have wanted to be?
A Blues singer.
What tips would you give someone who wants to take Performance Storytelling as a career?
Self-supporting careers in storytelling are not easy to come by. First I would talk with someone who has developed a career in storytelling to assess the opportunities and difficulties in one’s locale. Then with eyes wide open and a realistic perspective I would prepare my repertoire sufficiently and then seek exposure by telling my stories anywhere and anytime I can. If you have the knack for it people will see it, your audiences will grow, and requests for more will come.
Please share with us the top five items in your bucket list.
I only have one item and that is to live long enough to see my 7 month old grandson grow up.
Diane can be contacted on dianeferlatte.com
Diane is one of the storytellers who graced the 2010 Sigana International Storytelling Festival here in Nairobi. She was the first teller from the USA to perform at this festival.