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sam payne


Sam works often as a workshop presenter with Suzanne Christensen. Suzanne is an accomplished speech and acting coach, and is also the director of The Acting Company, for the last two decades producing Shakespeare plays with actors between the ages of three and 18. Together, Sam and Suzanne make a formidable team as teaching artists, helping storytellers develop rigorous processes for making their writing and performing the best it can be. They work with elementary school students, high schoolers, University professors, community groups, festival-goers, and more. Below, find a brief description of some of the workshops that Sam and Suzanne have ready for you. The presentations are all scalable to pretty much any time frame (any time frame over an hour, that is). To book Sam and Suzanne for a workshop (or either of them individually, of course), just click on the “Booking” link in the navigation bar, or right HERE.

"I have taken dozens, maybe hundreds of writing type events and this one is the one that finally broke through my fear. "

          –Angie Kathleen Lund

Making the Gift, Giving the Gift

In a lot of ways, there’s nothing more satisfying than communing with other people over a good story. We save parts of our experience, and we process them for sharing with the people we care about so they can understand our hearts. Our stories are the best illustrations of who we are and what we understand the world to be. If you’ve ever hand-made a gift for someone you love, then you know something about the care and craftsmanship that stories deserve. Keeping that image in mind, we’ll  work together preparing stories for an audience: as a storyteller, you make a gift, and then you give it. You’re always among friends in one of our workshops, so it’s easy to be brave and generous in your giving.

Before Anything, Witness

A lot of storytellers work, and work, and work on perfecting the right gestures, inflections, accents, and glances for a story performance without ever asking why they’re telling the story in the first place. Because there’s nothing quite like a story that knows why it’s there, This workshop will take you down to the bedrock of understanding what you’re telling a story for in the first place, driven by the notion that not every story needs a moral, but every story needs a reason. The workshop will also teach you to honor your story enough to do some research, and will give you a few tips on how to do it.

In Your Write Mind

Storytellers ought to write. If you’re not writing a little bit every day, great thoughts that could become stories may be escaping! Learn to generate and capture those thoughts by getting into a few good writing habits – habits that very likely won’t even interrupt other parts of your life (as good as writing is for you, “other parts” are good too!). This workshop will get you writing, keep you writing, and help you get your writing on its feet and on stage. Learn a few simple rules to live by and get your hands on a couple of exercises that will have you swimming in great ideas.

Getting in Shape

Most of the content of this workshop is tucked away in your notes from high school somewhere. That’s where they tried to graph out the shape of a story using terms like “inciting incident” and “rising action,” and, our favorite (because it’s French), “denouement.” The truth is, the story shape advocated by your English teacher can be a powerful tool for turning snippets of experience into lively stories. This workshop will take you down into the shape of a story, helping you to craft performances that are a whole lot more than simply a slideshow of details

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