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The Waitress and the Importance of Sharing a Story

Written by Jack Zipes

Annotated by Roisin Murray

Designed by Holly Catford

Designed by Holly Catford Typeset in Arnhem Aaux Pro Penumbra Printed by HelloBlue on Cyclus Offset 100gsm Supplied by PaperBack Copyright Š 2012 Holly Catford Small changes have been made to the text to make it more suitable to be read aloud. None of these changes have affected the narrative or meaning of the story, best efforts have been to stay as close as possible to Jack Zipe’s original story.


4 Forward 6 Essay Where Are We Now Michael Carbonara 16 Article Many Parents Failing to Read to Children Rachel Williams 22 Interview Sandy Hallet 28 Article Some Thoughts on the Lost Art of Reading Aloud Verlyn Klinkenborg 34 Interview Roisin Murray 42 How to use this book 48 The Story The Waitress Jack Zipes Roisin Murphy Sources Extra Reading


Since words started to be written down they started to lose their voice. The written word is silent, words then exist as our own voices inside our heads, and they become conceptual things living in a conceptual world. It’s emotive concept, words are so important to our world. When words are read aloud they reclaim their space, they become physical things again. When words are spoken aloud our lungs, tongue, lips, throat and nose are creating them, it is an incredibly complicated sequence. People spend their lives studying the human voice. A tiny change in any of these actions can change the whole meaning of a word or sentence. We all have our own individual voices, no two are the same. These factors combined mean that the spoken word has many restraints. Our voices create the tone, pitch, volume and speed that the words can become physical things.

Our voices create structure. By creating small changes to these factors the whole meaning of a spoken story can be changed. Our voices change the silent written words into real things that now physically exist. This is something that I feel that we are starting to forget. Simply, this is about the importance of the spoken story. By looking into the history of fairy stories I started to see the importance of sharing story used to have in communities. Historically stories would have been told using the voice; Folktales, traditions and morals were passed down through generations of tribes. This book includes an essay written by Michael Carbonara, this is a great piece of writing that gives you an overview of historical and current oral tradition, as well as what it could mean for the future. Alongside that something that has gradually been seeping into the media is that children are not reading enough, one cause has been found to be that parents are not reading to young children as much, there’s article and an interview with a father of three young girls speaks about how important it is to him. This direction inspired the true purpose of this book, to help people start to reclaim the word themselves. Using The Waitress a story written by Jack Zipes has been transformed, using an annotation by a professional storyteller, Roisin Murphy, into a visual system designed to both enhance and interrupt the act of reading the story aloud.


Where Now? A GLIMPSE AT ORAL TRADITION Michael Carbonara

In today’s society, a term like “oral tradition” strikes me as odd since we live in a computer and media cesspool. Although we, as a society, may tell stories or pass on legends, we have seemingly strayed from where it is we began.

Are We In his book Orality and Literacy, Walter J. Ong states, “Human society first formed itself with the aid of oral speech, only to become literate much later in its history�. Homosapiens has existed for thirty to fifty thousand years, but only as recently as six thousand years ago has their been evidence of literacy. During those roughly thirty four to forty four thousand years before they were literate, there existed many oral cultures that we both study and respect today. Even more importantly, these are the societies that our modern world evolved from in one way or another. Obviously, the absence of literacy did not prevent advancement and greatness amidst these early societies. There are a number of societies that can be referenced to see oral tradition. Looking at these societies is very important in the process of understanding both the essence and importance of oral tradition; especially oral tradition as a keeping of history. With this there also exists other important things to look at when dealing with the oral tradition. One must also consider the circumstances in which such orality thrived, reliable and unreliable oralities, and oral tradition in literate societies. In today’s society we have seemed to have lost the essence of oral tradition, and it seems rather important to get back to it through understanding and integration of it into our cyber-literate present.


What is oral tradition? First, it is important to understand what oral tradition is, and what different types of oral tradition are recognized amongst scholars and researchers in the field. Jan Vansina calls oral traditions “historical sources of a special nature.” She goes on to say that, “Their special nature derives from the fact that they are ‘unwritten’ sources couched in a form suitable for oral transmission, and that their preservation depends on the powers of memory of successive generations of human beings” . In her book, Vansina breaks oral traditions down into two groups. The first group contains all sources, whether or not they have been distorted by process of transmission, which can be tracked back to an author, and have been passed down for definite purpose. The purpose, whether public or private, must be something other humor, entertainment, and definitely not propaganda. This first group deals with oral tradition for the purpose of history, especially in societies with no written communication. The second group encapsulates the less reliable types of oral traditions. These types of oral tradition cannot be traced back to any specific author, and have spread mostly of their own accord. They include, but are not limited to, rumors, myths, sagas, legends, anecdotes, proverbs, and folk songs. When looking at anonymous oral traditions, it is important to attempt to understand whether the tradition was passed on with a propaganda-like motive, or if in fact there was some type of autobiographical motive. This can often prove difficult for a reader of less than scholarly esteem. Oral traditions of this nature share the common characteristic of being spontaneously transmitted from one person to another. This sporadic transmission contributes to the loss of content and blurring of theme from the original. This is probably an obvious notion, as things do get distorted and augmented as they are passed on from one person to another. This idea is instilled in us as children in games like telephone. It’s played by assembling


a line and having the first person say a phrase to the second, and then everyone tries to relay the message to the person next to them as it was said to them. Ultimately, the message is reaches the end different from its original state. Although this telephone phenomenon does in fact happen when stories are passed on sporadically over generations, it is important to really look at the motive of the oral tradition itself. This is most important when looking at traditions of the second nature that bear no authorship. If the tradition seems to be propaganda or to promote one thing over another, then its credibility can undoubtedly be questioned. On the other hand, the oral tradition may show no signs of mal intent or propaganda, and rather just tell a story about how something transpired. Obviously there exists a fine line when deciding the reliability of oral traditions, but doing so is our challenge as a later generation.   The Limba To adequately look at orality in society, you must look at a diverse group of cultures. To start, I’ll look at the exclusively oral society of the Limba of Sierra Leone1. The Limba live in where they are in contact with five different neighboring languages. The Limba show a great natural interest in language, and the people of these six native tongues somehow find ways to communicate when they need to. Due to the uniqueness of their language amongst the others in their area, their language is something that the Limba are very proud of as a people. Although some say that oral cultures are less intelligent or have a lesser capacity for abstract thought, the Limba do have their own literature. True, it is oral literature, but it is literature nonetheless. Their literature exists in prose narratives and poetry of various kinds. Just like the literature of a literate culture, the Limba even use their literature at specific times and for specific events. These people, although illiterate,

1 The Limba are indigenous people of Sierra Leone, they are the third largest ethic tribe in the country. The speak in a number of dialects, which are unrelated to languages of any other tribes.


obviously understand the aesthetic value of their literature. The tales of the Limba go far beyond morals and lessons, and venture deep into the truths about how it is that people really behave. The use of this oral literature is a means of social commentary for the Limba. It allows Limba storytellers and poets to deal with these issues from outside their immediate reality. These oral traditions have been handed down to them by those the Limba refer to as the old people, and are interpreted and reinterpreted by every new audience. Some may argue that this method might lend itself to the telephone phenomenon I spoke of earlier. Although this may very well be true, it is not what is important in the matter. With every reinterpretation, the storyteller puts into their own telling of the story a personal passion and understanding. Although their regurgitation may not be exactly like the original, it rarely loses its original purpose or message. For the Limba, the absence of literacy in their society has not left them far behind the literate cultures of the west. They use orality for far more than just communication for daily survival. Although their literary art may only be kept in their hearts and rolling off their tongues, it is still held by them in the same regard that the Greeks hold the works of Plato or Aristotle. The Limba, as almost any other culture in history, also have oral traditions to carry on their history. Although it may be hard for someone of a literate society to understand why they would not just keep record of their history, you must try to understand that there is no fear of losing their history. When they hear or tell their history, they recognize it as exactly that, and it is near and dear to them. It would be like writing down your own nationality because you didn’t want to forget about it after a while. It is such a part of them that they could never forget to keep it alive, thus letting it die. In my opinion it is appreciation and value of your own past in one of the purest forms possible. Not many people in our society can say


that they are personally responsible for keeping history alive, unless they have written a history reference of some kind. Amongst the Limba, every person is a walking timeline; if asked or needed to be.   Yup’ik Eskimos Another exclusively oral society is that of the Yup’ik Eskimos2. The Yup’ik society in Western Alaska is a completely oral society. Although they have many rules and prohibitions about things like daily interaction with animals, life-cycle changes, and spiritual encounters, you will not find any of them recorded in writing. In her book Boundaries and Passages, Ann Fienup-Riordan says of her research, “An understanding of some of the most important, most commonly practiced, and most discussed rules for living informed my work. People taught me what every Yup’ik child already knew.” It was this understanding that guided her through her field research of the Yup’ik people. She didn’t learn how to fit in by reading about their customs in a book on the plane ride over. She couldn’t. The way of the Yup’ik people can’t be found in any book, and yet even the children of their society know the ways of their people. Within Yup’ik oral tradition there exists two kinds of oral tradition: qulirat and qanemcit. Qulirat includes legends and tales told by distant ancestors, while qanemcit covers historical narratives related by known persons. The level of similarity between the two categories previously stated from Vansina’s work and these two categories of the Yup’ik people is almost one hundred percent, making the categories seem natural to the topic. This society used orality to not only exist peacefully, but also to teach its children to do so too. For these people there did not exist textbooks, etiquette manuals, or anything of the like. The oral traditions of their culture told stories about animal-human relations, life and death, and customs within their culture. All of the qulirat type stories carried in them a showcase

2 The Yup’ik Eskimos are a tribe from Western and South Western Alaska as well as the Far East of Russia. Their name comes from two words Yuk meaning person and Pik meaning genuine, the direct translation is The Real People.


of culture or a moral lesson, regardless of if they were fictional or not. Stories of the qanemcit variety told more definitive tales of family or cultural history. No one is to say which of these genres is the more important to the Yup’ik people, and quite frankly there is no right answer. The Yup’ik, although much closer in proximity to Western society, share much with the Limba. Both are exist in exclusively oral societies that rely on oral tradition for the survival of their people, mostly rooted in the oral teaching that raises their youth.   The Native Americans Much like the Yup’ik people of Alaska, Native Americans posses strong oral traditions in their culture. In fact, due to the numerous tribes and Indian wars, Native American oral culture may be one of the most complex in history. Unlike the Yup’ik and Limba, Native American culture has found a place for literacy. To many people in our society [America], Native American culture is the only predominantly oral culture we know. Native American society thrives greatly on its oral tradition for numerous purposes and functions. This is probably especially true before the impact of colonization and other instances of European exploration. The most interesting aspect of Native American oral tradition is in the form of stories and tales. In these tales, which vary from tribe to tribe, Native Americans explain nature and its many phenomenon, justify their culture, and explain the animal kingdom. In many cases, Native American oral tradition that isn’t for the purpose of history involves animals as its main characters. It is only in recent decades that these stories have been written down to be preserved. I recently had the privilege of seeing a Native American speaker named Nick Hockings. Mr. Hockings, who spoke at Illinois State University on 11 February 2004, is a member of the Ojibwe tribe in Wisconsin. Hockings spoke of the importance of storytelling, and how Native


American stories told of creation, who you were, and why you eat what you eat. “Story, for all intensive purposes,” Hockings said, “are real happenings in life that help you cope with life.” During his speech, Hockings shared an oral tradition from his tribe entitled Fire and Wolf. Within just this one story you could see the power structure within the animal kingdom, an explanation of fire, and examples of man’s interaction with nature and animals. Native Americans also used oral tradition to keep their history. At a young age Native Americans tell their young stories about what has happened to the people of their tribe’s previous generations. Actually, Hocking said that it is not uncommon to find an Ojibwe family living together with representation of three generations. In a situation like this, it is easy to keep your family’s history alive through the passion of those who lived through it. Like the peoples mentioned earlier, Native American history relies much on its people remembering what has been passed down to them from elders. Native Americans of every tribe understand the importance of their history, and keep it alive by passing orally from one generation to the next. The interesting part is the continuing importance of oral traditions amongst Native Americans, even though they exist in a literate society. Although they may have their history written accounted for on paper, they continue to keep it more vividly alive in an oral manner. This is something that many modern societies have seemingly lost in their culture.   African Culture African culture is also another good place to look when discussing oral tradition. Oral tradition has been a part of African culture in the forms of narratives, songs, stories, and chants. Slave narratives are probably most well known of these, as they are studied by students on multiple occasions during a formal education. These narratives where passed


on orally from plantation to plantation in the southern United States in the pre-Civil War era. Many of these narratives even made their way back to Africa herself. These oral traditions are in fact reliable since they can be traced back to a specific author in almost every case. There was no need to record these narratives right away since they were very real and important to the slaves in the south. They had a natural motivation to preserve this painful chapter of their history, as not to forget where they had been as a people. Some of the best known of these narratives were that of Frederick Douglas and Harriet Jacobs. These narratives were not only full of facts and depictions that tell the conditions of African people in the Confederate south, but they also hold evidence of the different styles and flavors used in speech at that point in their history. Only after many slaves had gained their freedom did they get a chance to publish their stories. Regardless, their stories were well known before ever being literally recorded. Another oral form of African culture lies in their songs and chants. Many of these songs and chants cannot be found in print anywhere in the world, but are known word for word by millions of People of African descent. For this reason they are far less reliable than slave narratives, but are still a vital part of African oral tradition. Many of these songs and chants are expressive of religious beliefs; yet exist for a multitude of reasons. Some of them are in praise of a higher power, some were created and preserved for motivational or coping purposes, and still others are songs timeless songs of jubilations and pride. These instances of oral tradition in African culture are a very important part of that culture’s history. Without the survival of these narratives, songs, and chants significant facts or ideas concerning their culture may very well have been lost by these people.


  Bibliography Fienup-Riordan, Ann (1994) Boundaries and Passages Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press. Finnegan, Ruth (1988) Literacy and Orality New York, NY: Basil Blackwell Inc. Hawkings, Nick (2004, February) An Ojibwe Perspective on Identity and Culture in the 21st Century Native American storytelling, Normal, IL. Niles, John D. (1999) Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Literature Philadelphia. PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Okpewho, Isidore (1992) African oral tradition: Backgrounds, character, and continuity Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Ong, Walter J. (1982) Orality and literacy New York, NY: Methuen Inc. Vansina, Jan (1965) Oral Tradition Chicago, IL: Aldide Publishing Co.


Parents are failing to read to Their Children The Guardian Rachel Willams

Many children are starting school having never been read a story, a survey reveals today. More than half of primary teachers have seen a least one child begin formal education with no experience of being told stories at home. Teachers said the stories pupils did know often seemed to come from watching Disney cartoons. One literacy expert branded the endings a ‘national disaster’, warning that such children were at risk of being left behind at school and failing to develop the creative talents needed to lead happy and productive lives. Pie Corbett, who acts as an educational adviser to the government, said too many children were left to watch TV instead of being read a bedtime story, often by busy middle-class parents.


The Tv does the imagining for you


It Doesn’t Care IF you’re listening or not

‘This isn’t just an economic thing – it’s not just people who come from poor backgrounds, it’s across the whole of society. You get a lot of children coming from very privileged backgrounds who’ve spent a lot of time in front of the TV and not enough time snuggled up with a good book. The TV does the imagining for you – and it doesn’t care whether you’re listening or not.’ Research shows that children who are read to on a regular basis before they start school are most likely to succeed. ‘It’s a key predictor in terms of educational success. Being told stories boosts language and, by feeding the child’s imagination, develops abstract thought. Children who are told stories are the ones who first form abstract concepts across the curriculum – in other words, being read to makes you brainy. The best writers in the class are always those who are avid readers.’ Reading levels have improved in recent years, but attainment in writing has not kept up. Nearly two-thirds of the 300 teachers questioned by Oxford University Press said children were less able to tell stories in writing than 10 years ago. One teacher responding to the survey said: ‘Where are all the parents who sing and recite nursery rhymes to their children? We have created a generation who are failing to give their children the phonological start they need to become a capable reader.’


in other words

being read to m akes you br ainy

Sandy Hallet




I’m the eldest of four in my family, some of my best memories from childhood are my parents reading to me before bedtime. No matter where we were or what time it was, my Mum or Dad always made sure that we got our story before we went to sleep. These memories have been so important to my life, that when I started to find out that this sacred evening event isn’t being valued as much as it used to be, it really shocked me. Sandy Hallet is the enthusiastic reader (and mum) to three girls Grace, Masie and Sienna.


H T E L R L u A


  Do you read to your children? Yes, every night, unless we've had a day out and we all come home shattered. It's an important part of their day, and gives me a chance to catch up with a bit of quiet time with each of them. Sometimes it feels like after all the rushing around we kind of sigh with relief when we open the book. A bit of a ritual really. If I can't be there to read, their Dad fills in at story time. But on those occasions he reads something different (they choose together). Otherwise I lose the plot! Each of them like different things. Very occasionally we start a book and get a couple of chapters in, and one of us will say “I’m not sure I’m enjoying this…”, then we very often dump it and start something else. More often we’ve chosen the book at the bookstore and know it’s one we’ll be into, a known author or a theme that’s a favourite. Recently we’ve had a friend write a book who ‘tested’ it on us. That was fun to be the very first people to read it, and it was almost as if he’d written it with a particular child in mind, it fitted so well. But mostly it’s chapter books. Maybe a bit off the wall in terms of style and content (The Thirteen and a half lives of Captain Bluebear is a massive favourite and led on to all the other Walter Moers books), but mainstream/popular too like the Harry Potters etc.


we kind of sigh with relief when we open the book



d un


g a n i ro h s



it’s no coincidence that each of the kids have a massive vocabulary


It's important to me. Frankly I enjoy the stories too, and their reactions to them, along with the questions and the conversations that are kickstarted. I can't remember my parents ever reading to me, maybe once when I was ill. But hopefully they will read to their children too. And it's important to them too – a sort of private time that's their right, no matter what. Yes there are times when I'm knackered and it would be nice to just be lazy and slump on the sofa and watch TV but I do find the energy to read their stories we always (all) feel better for it. And is it bad to admit that I'm still reading to a 15 year old?



  Why do you read to them? The best end to a day, and it’s no coincidence that each of the kids have a massive vocabulary, and are creative in their own right. One has won a national storywriting award despite being dyslexic.

The New York Times Verlyn Klinkenborg

Sometimes the best way to understand the present is to look at it from the past. Consider audio books. An enormous number of Americans read by listening these days – listening aloud, I call it. The technology for doing so is diverse and widespread, and so are the places people listen to audio books. But from the perspective of a reader in, say, the early 19th century, about the time of Jane Austen, there is something peculiar about it, even lonely.

In those days, literate families and friends read aloud to each other as a matter of habit. Books were still relatively scarce and expensive, and the routine electronic diversions we take for granted were, of course, nonexistent. If you had grown up listening to adults reading to each other regularly, the thought of all of those solitary 21stcentury individuals hearkening to earbuds and car radios would seem isolating. It would also seem as though they were being trained only to listen to books and not to read aloud from them. It’s part of a pattern. Instead of making music at home, we listen to recordings of professional musicians. When people talk about the books they’ve heard, they’re often talking about the quality of the readers, who are usually professional. The way we listen to books has been de-socialized, stripped of context, which has the solitary virtue of being extremely convenient. But listening aloud, valuable as it is, isn’t the same as reading aloud. Both require a great deal of attention. Both are good ways to learn something important about the rhythms of language. But one of the most basic tests of comprehension is to ask someone to read aloud from a book. It reveals far more than whether the reader understands the words. It reveals how far into the words – and the pattern of the words – the reader really sees. Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words. To read with your lungs and diaphragm, with your tongue and lips, is very different than reading with your eyes alone. The language becomes a part of the body, which is why there is always a curious tenderness, almost an erotic quality, in those 18th- and 19th-century literary scenes where a book is being read aloud in mixed company. The words are not mere words. They’re the breath and mind, perhaps the soul, of the person who is reading. No one understood this better than Jane Austen. One of the


physicalit y of words

late turning points in Mansfield Park comes when Henry Crawford picks up a volume of Shakespeare, ‘which had the air of being very recently closed,’ and begins to read aloud to the young Bertrams and their cousin, Fanny Price. Fanny discovers in Crawford’s reading ‘a variety of excellence beyond what she had ever met with.’ And yet his ability to do every part ‘with equal beauty’ is a clear sign to us, if not entirely to Fanny, of his superficiality. I read aloud to my writing students, and when students read aloud to me I notice something odd. They are smart and literate, and most of them had parents who read to them as children. But when students read aloud at first, I notice that they are trying to read the meaning of the words. If the work is their own, they are usually trying to read the intention of the writer. It’s as though they’re reading what the words represent rather than the words themselves. What gets lost is the inner voice of the prose, the life of the language. This is reflected in their writing, too, at first. In one realm – poetry – reading aloud has never really died out.Take Robert Pinsky’s new book, Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud. But I suspect there is no going back. You can easily make the argument that reading silently is an economic artifact, a sign of a new prosperity beginning in the early 19th century and a new cheapness in books. The same argument applies to listening to books on your iPhone. But what I would suggest is that our idea of reading is incomplete, impoverished, unless we are also taking the time to read aloud.

The way we listen to book s has been D e - s o c i a l i s e d


Roisin MurRAY Interview



A Storyteller is someone who performs a story. They don’t read from a book or recite a script they’ve learned. Every storyteller tells their stories in their own particular way, everyone is different. There are all different types of story, with specialists for each type like folk stories, ones especially for children, adults or nationalities. They are fantastically talented at bringing text to life, giving them a voice again. Roisin Murray is a professional storyteller based in Margate, Kent. She tells three main types of story for education, corporate and entertainment purposes.


How would you describe storytelling?

The sha of a tale betw two peop


How would you describe storytelling?

arinG e ween ple   How would you describe storytelling? There are many attempts to describe what storytelling is – and the term is often misused (as in describing an author as a great storyteller). They write great stories, but storytelling is something different. I would describe it as the sharing of a tale between two or more people, where the listeners becomes part of the story process. The difference with watching acting is that one remains an observer, no matter how moving the performance. For instance an audience member came up to me last week after a performance and said ‘I could actually taste that roast pheasant you talked about’. In the Traveller community of Scotland, where storytelling is still very strong they have an expression of how stories are shared eye to eye, heart to heart, mind to mind – which sums it up for me. As storytellers we borrow from drama, recitation, movement – music too sometimes, but the narrative and the sharing are uppermost.


What’s your story?

  What’s your story? My mother was Irish, so I was brought up with both some traditional tales, but also family stories and fables. As an adult I worked in a corporate on change projects in a corporate environment – and was struck with how often people told stories to me. Sometimes these would even contain obvious contradictions – but to the person they were still true. In 1996, as part of a Master’s Degree (in Personal and Organisational Development) I started to explore this tendency – especially as many of the stories I heard seemed to contain archetypes such as heroes and villains, the keepers of secrets in fables the witches and wizards, the good or evil kings and queens (the managers usually). Through that work I came across places that offered training for storytellers – those who wanted to work with and perform traditional tales. I started doing ad hoc training over the next few years, and developed a deeper interest in storytelling as an art – but it was still a hobby at this stage, although as a corporate trainer then a Senior Lecturer in a Business School I managed to integrate loads of storytelling into my day job. Then in 2008 circumstances led me to leave the Business School so I set up as a storyteller and began to work in a wide range of settings such as schools, care homes, community settings and as a performer.


What’s your story?

I worked in a corporate I was struck with how often people told stories


Why is storytelling important?

S t u d i e s Studies t h a that t o n ly show sh a r i n g a st only when t W o peop sharing a story two b r a i n w people’s brainwaves co-ordinate


sh o w wh e n t o r Y ple’s a v

Why is storytelling important?


e s

  Why is storytelling so important? It is important on many levels. Of course it is fun and having fun is very important for our mental health (if we need an excuse). For children it stimulates their imagination (it comes long before yet informs literacy), when done in a family situation it enhances relationships, going back to a physical connection rather than electronic such as TV, radio, DVDs, interactive games etc – these can all be shared on a superficial level, but studies show that only when sharing a story to people’s brainwaves co-ordinate. It can help to develop emotional literacy at any age – by allowing an exploration of many emotions in a safe space. For example it is being used in health care settings, prisons and community conflict resolution areas. It creates and maintains a sense of community as people share a tale – as they have done for thousands of years before any other form of entertainment existed.


How to use THE system

Identifying a visual system to aid story telling mechanics Holly Catford

The main purpose of this book is to help the reader perform the story using methods of tradition storytelling. A professional storyteller has annotated the original story written by Jack Zipes and the text has been visually transformed to help you perform the story yourself. An easy system has been created to help you easily navigate through the text without over complicating.

  Storytelling Skills A Storyteller uses a range of skills we are calling storytelling mechanics, they are tricks that will help the story come to life when read aloud. Storytelling mechanic include: emphasis, repetition, transition, pause and proportion. The system to guide a reader through the story has been developed using typographic and visual elements to represent these different elements of performance helping to either interrupt the flow of reading or enhance it to make the reader aware of the storytelling mechanics.


Dialogue You should make use of different voices for different characters and using the Storytelling ‘V’ where you will shift your facing or posture as the dialogue switches from character to character.   Characters in The Waitress You can distinguish between characters in the Waitress by looking at changes in the visual character of the letters. A method of making a story exciting is to use different voices, facial expressions and postures for each character. The visual changes of the words will help you quickly adapt to each character.

The Waitress’s dialogue will be set in light italics, these mimic the female form and compliment the character. The Chair’s character is much bolder than the Waitress’s. The sturdier forms of small capitals allude to the appearance of the Chair as well as its stronger character. Marcel the Restaurant Owner seems to be a slimy character, at first appearing untrustworthy and taking advantage of the Waitress, towards the end of the story he ends up showing great generosity towards his new guests.


Voice This can be used to create the atmosphere or tension as the story progresses. The best way to achieve this is to use pauses and silences to create tension for the listener. These can be hard to create naturally so the text will include various lengths of blank space between words to give you a sense of where pauses would be most successful. As well as visually acting as markers, these spaces interrupt your flow of reading making them sound more natural.    For example:

She never knew how it had happened — but there was once a chair stuck on the back of a waitress. She jiggled, she jumped, she bucked and she kicked her heels like a wild horse in a rodeo show. But nothing she did could help poor Marie get the chair off her back. She went to the best doctors, carpenters, detectives, midwives, and plumbers in all of Paris but nobody could help her. The chair stuck on her back, and everyone was afraid of tearing it off her back because she might die.


Pacing This involves both the volume and rate at which you speak, and the progression of the action in the story. An important part of performing a story is contradicting the pauses by using exaggeration. The best way to do this is by varying the speed and volume of your voice. To visually pick out these points the colour of the words has been varied, making it easier for you to scan the text and quickly pick out important words to exaggerate. There are so many different ways that you can use your voice to exaggerate words, extra touches the storyteller has suggested have been added in this highlighting colour too.    For example:






G rac ive the ter ch a it fo t this air a d p is r th e re oint, s tinct ti st o f th ck to e st ory




Maybe something good will come of this Marie said to herself. Maybe if you dressed me up, you might learn a thing or two the chair said to her.



You can talk!


Repetition and Exaggeration Are basic elements used in story telling. There is not a large amount of repetition in The Waitress but certain paragraphs towards the end do use very similar structures and speech between the characters. To highlight this and help to exaggerate the repetitions appropriately the paragraphs have been structured in a similar way. The repeated sentences have also been underlined so at a glance you can see if a sentence will continue to be repeated.    For example: “Madame Natalie,” Marie said. “We’ve come to invite you to lunch.” No sooner said than Marie stooped down. The old woman sat down in the chair. And in a flash they were at Marcel’s. “Madame, it’s a pleasure. We shall be expecting you for lunch every day.” “Monsieur Pierre,” Marie said. “We’ve come to invite you to lunch.” No sooner said than Marie stooped down. Somehow Pierre managed to fit himself into the chair. And in a flash they were at Marcel’s. “Monsieur, it’s a pleasure. We shall be expecting you for lunch every day.”


The Waitress Written by Jack Zipes

Annotated by Roisin Murray

Designed by Holly Catford

She never knew how it had happened but there was once a chair stuck on the back of a waitress.



She jiggled. She jumped. She bucked and She kicked her heels like a wild horse in a rodeo show. But nothing she did could help poor Marie get the chair off her back. She went to the best doctors carpenters detectives midwives and plumbers in all of Paris, but nobody could help her. The chair stuck on her back, and everyone was afraid of tearing it off her back because she might die.





After all Marie was a small young woman, somewhat on the skinny side. You might even call her frail or fragile. Perhaps that was because she was always running from table to table in the restaurant where she worked. Perhaps it was because she never had time to eat a good meal. Marie never thought about it. She just worked as hard as she could. At first Marie thought she looked like a humpback, and she was ashamed of her chair, but the chair was light as a feather, and she could barely feel it.






G rac ive the ter ch a it fo t this air a d p is r th e re oint, s tinct ti st o f th ck to e st ory





Maybe something good will come of this Marie said to herself. Maybe if you dressed me up, you might learn a thing or two the chair said to her.



You can talk!

You can walk! Of course I can, anyone can.


Hey, that’s not true. Not anyone can. There are a lot of old people who can’t walk. What about babies? What about people who have accidents? What about people who are born differently?”



All right, all right, I get your point.


Well, if you get my point ——— get me dressed and do something about it.



What would you like to wear?



Something with frills, and I like colours like aqua blue, jasmine green, fire red, and chartreuse. tic

Are you a girl? Does it matter? Marie said it didn’t, and off she went with the chair on her back to the nearest department store. People didn’t seem to mind that she had a chair on her back, and Marie found that strange. There were all types of linen, silk, and cloth, and the chair nudged her to pick out pink, yellow, and blue flower patterns and then an intricate diamond shaped red, black, and green roll of wool, and finally she had to pick out soft feather pillows in different colours.


The bill came to $500, and Marie told the chair there was no way she could pay for all the materials. Look into your purse the chair demanded. Marie stuck her hand inside and pulled out ten one hundred dollar bills. Oh! She almost fainted. Stop that and pay. Fas

ter to pan indic ate ic in her the voic e

But what if somebody lost this money? What if it was stolen? I told you, good things happen in strange ways

Marie hesitated still, but finally she paid and rushed home as fast as she could. As she entered her one-room apartment, she almost stumbled over a sewing machine. What’s this? She exclaimed. How do you think you’re going to make my outfits if you don’t have a sewing machine? But I can’t sew. You can now. Try it.


Con ver sat you remem ional to spe aki ber thi ne ng n s is cha ot the rac ters

At first Marie was afraid of hurting herself with the needle, but the instructions were easy to read, and once the machine began humming, it was as if she were playing a violin sonata. She was carried away in rhapsody, and when she had finished, she had produced sevenmarvellously coloured chair covers. Hey, let’s do a fashion show!

Marie could feel the arms of the chair picking up one of the outfits and slipping it on. When the chair gave a sign that it was ready, Marie strolled over to the bathroom and turned around and around so she could see the chair in the mirror. Ma

ke t



lly p



Oh, you look beautiful! Thanks, but it was all you, and now we’ve got to get to work. To do what? Well, you don’t think I’m going to let my looks and your talents go to waste. We’re going to start a restaurant service for people who have trouble walking. What do you mean? Well, you know all those people who sit at home and can’t get out because they’re sick or disabled or old. We’re going to pick them up, and you’ll carry them in me to the restaurant. 53

Then they can be with other people for a while and have a meal on the house. We’ll call ourselves the Walking Wizards! I w w ncred if yo ould y ulous ou uh fe a ple on d to ca el you r ba rry ck? Ho


But I can’t carry anyone on my back. You’re carrying me. That’s different. You’re light. Or, at least I can’t feel you. Trust me the chair said firmly.

Well, Marie had no other choice, and she carried the chair to Marcel, the owner of the restaurant where she worked. Bus


ss l


Marcel, we’re going to expand your business. Hey, you’re pretty cute. Marcel replied, for the chair was dressed in flaming red and yellow. Now’s not the time for flirting, Here’s what we propose.

No sooner did the three finish their conversation than Marie set out and arrived at the apartment of an old woman named Natalie She was eighty-five years old, tiny like a mouse, and she rarely left her apartment because she had difficulty walking without a cane.


Marie knocked. The door opened. Madame Natalie Marie said. We’ve come to invite you to lunch. No sooner said than Marie stooped down. The old woman sat down in the chair. And in a flash they were at Marcel’s. Madame, it’s a pleasure. We shall be expecting you for lunch every day. The next stop for Marie and the chair was Fat Pierre’s home. He weighed lose to four hundred pounds. He was a young man, not more than thirty-five, but when his wife died suddenly, he went into a deep depression, stayed at home all day, watched tv and ate junk food. When Marie knocked, the door opened. Monsieur Pierre Marie said. We’ve come to invite you to lunch. No sooner said than Marie stooped down. Somehow Pierre managed to fit himself into the chair And in a flash they were at Marcel’s. Monsieur, it’s a pleasure. Take a seat next to Madame Natalie. We shall be expecting you for lunch every day.


Off went Marie with the chair. This time they went to visit Liliane, who had been the brightest student in her class, but she had been hit by car and had lost the use of one of her legs and refused to go to school anymore. Her mother tried everything from bribes to psychologists, but Liliane refused to move from her room. When Marie knocked, the door opened, and Liliane’s mother showed her to her daughter’s room. Mademoiselle Liliane Marie said. We’ve come to invite you to lunch. Liliane’s eyes opened wide when she saw Marie with a chair stuck on her back, and she giggled. In fact, she continued to giggle when she jumped into the chair and sped to Marcel’s restaurant. Throughout the morning Marie and her chair sped through the neighbourhood until twentyone people were gathered at Marcel’s for lunch. He had set up a special banquet room for his guests, and he cooked the most delicious specialities of the house. There was laughter and chatter. Almost all the people knew each other somewhat, but they were discovering they had so much in common that they made plans to do things with each other. They kept toasting Marcel and praising his cooking. There’s nothing like French cooking! It’s all on the house! You are my guests forever.


The next day Marie and her chair did not arrive at the restaurant, nor did they go knocking on people’s doors. Nevertheless, all the people managed to show up at Marcel’s restaurant, and they enjoyed themselves and kept meeting until the end of their days. As for Marie and her chair, it is difficult to remember what happened to them. Some say they never existed. But I for one don’t believe them.


Sources Where are we now? Michael Carbonara carbonara.pdf Many Parents Failing to Read to Children Racheal Williams Some Thoughts on Reading Aloud Verlyn Klinkenborg     Extra Reading Introduction to Storytelling Barry McWilliams Roisin Murray

The waitress — Holly Catford  
The waitress — Holly Catford  

Awarded ISTD Memebership 2012