One of the (many) basic, fundamental, and very important things I’ve picked up from the Center for Digital Storytelling’s philosophy is finding/extracting the story in a flurry of thoughts and facts. I got a graphic reminder of that this weekend when my wife and I traveled out to Grand Lake, Colorado to see our son perform in a Frank Sinatra review. The “kids” (the four of them were still in high school when Ol’ Blue Eyes passed on in 1998) begin the show by threatening to sing all 1300 plus songs that he recorded. Since that would be about a 192 hour show with no intermissions, the writers had to trim things down to a doable two hour performance and then choose and group the songs into some semblance of a story. We got to see the show twice. The first time through, I just mainly watched and enjoyed our son. But the second time I was able to appreciate the job the show’s creators did. They took quotes from Frank and his friends, pieces from about 50 of his songs, and put them in “chapters” that illustrated the Chairman’s life and career. There was a city and travel song segment, one for love songs, another for sad and philosophical songs, and so on. Just like our student storytellers, the writers of this musical tribute had to become familiar enough with facts and details to boil them down to their time constraint and then string them together in a narrative that shares their knowledge and insight of the subject matter. No digital here, but good, concise storytelling.
I wonder if my mother would have been as excited to see her grandson singing all those Sinatra classics and soloing on “Chicago” as she was when she was a screaming teenager at a Chicago theater in the 40’s listening to the real deal?