The ‘beautiful disease of Berlin’ OR reflections on the workshop ‘An Introduction to the Art of Storytelling’

by Pinar Ozutemiz

photo by Alvaro Martínez

Please note that there is another storytelling workshop by Pinar Ozutemiz coming up in 2020. Check our calendar and reserve your place:

In the city of Berlin – that we all secretly love so much – it is very easy to get disappointed by its quick, isolated, alienated, ‘online/offline’, stressful post-modern lifestyle.

Sometimes, we have the tendency to feel that our dreams have just rested for a while. Or we even start to think that these dreams may never come true; therefore, we decide to get a nice tattoo before we get too old, to at least look more cool!

Or, at the end of a long night on the weekend, we at least want to believe that this idea of endless love should exist… However, it seems that even love couldn’t survive with the ‘beautiful disease’ of Berlin. Nobody cares! Maybe people are just too busy or exhausted from relationships in the big city. It’s just so lonely. And, damn! The weather is cold!

Personally, there are some moments where I am not able to express myself properly in the German language, even after living in this city for more than 4 years! Well, it just does not work very well! Acceptance is the first step to change it, after all. Keep faith and work on it to be able to speak better soon! But still… Do I have this motivation at the moment? In this atmosphere, it is somehow normal to feel kind of ‘sad’, right? Well, maybe it’s time for hibernation.

But here is the thing: If I keep telling myself these kinds of stories everyday, then I could, probably, also become one of these stories some day, right? And isn’t that sad!? How can I change that, then? How can I change these stories I tell myself everyday? Is it possible?

Those were the questions I was looking for… I asked them to myself for a while.

That’s how I came across one of the oldest forms of art, namely, the art of storytelling as a contemporary performance art, at the end of 2014 in Istanbul. This is an oral interactive art which works through the use of words and actions to reveal the images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination. All you need is a story, a storyteller and the listener. As simple as that! Since then, I started to explore the world of stories including myth, folktales, fairytales, wondrous tales through their power of fostering imagination, thanks to the timeless language of symbols.

I mean, please do not misunderstand me, I’ve also never seen a dragon! Not in real life, anyway, but I know exactly how to deal with them when the exciting adventure comes to life with a story – or how to become a ‘dragon’ when I have a strong desire to achieve! In this sense, a story told with enough detail and feeling for it to seem real, provides an imagined experience which can also stimulate the emotions and hopes of an audience. It creates another reality. In a nutshell, it is very inspiring to see how simply telling a story makes me more open, more connected, more focused, more creative and extroverted, in a more beautiful sense.

After 5 years of my storytelling journey, it was my ‘secret mission’ to share this knowledge with other people. While preparing the workshop ‘An introduction to the art of storytelling’ – acting as a facilitator for the very first time in my life –, I wanted to provide a time and a space where ‘busy Berliners’ can meet with their own inner storyteller.

The following words of Muriel Rukeyser were the motto of my workshop:

‘Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.’

At the workshop there were approximately 12-15 participants from very different origins, ranging from 22 to 65 years old. With my own eyes I witnessed how stories created an intimate connection within the group. It created a natural fluency of trust and openness for people who previously did not have any connection at all. The workshop includes the method of telling a story through improvisation, playfulness, visual techniques, creating images focusing on meditation, journaling, reflection, partner-work and group discussion.

I can say that my whole intention is to create a sincere and real atmosphere in a workshop where participants can meet and start to wonder, dream, connect and come alive through stories. And this really happened! It truly made me proud to observe how people open up, become playful, focus, behave creatively and start to tell the stories with their authenticity. With this inspiration, at the end of the workshop even the shyest participant was able to tell her/his story freely.

The fact remains: I am not arguing that the art of storytelling will change your whole life with one workshop – It would be so great, though! -, but for sure it opens a new door to make a real connection with your creative, authentic, natural self. For most people, storytelling can be seen as a fun activity for children, something they just do once in a while. However, it is a magical tool for making adults more curious, more open to their senses and helping them jump into the present experience and to feel as a ‘whole’ in our big city lives. It can also help to change the stories we are retelling ourselves everyday!

From this workshop, I can easily say that storytelling helps rediscover us to feel the fullness of being alive again. To illustrate, some of the participants encounter their inner child and identify the need to speak its voice, which was necessary for sooooo long.  Some of them reconnect with a strong ‘feminine’ side, which doesn’t fear telling a story in the German language anymore. Some of them emotionally connected with their inner storyteller, simply by appreciating a good story, within a limitless, imaginary world. Some just experienced how playful and fun storytelling can be! And it seems that even busy Berliners want to give more time to tell and to listen to more stories now! I’m simply grateful to the Encounters team for giving me this opportunity to facilitate this workshop.

Last but not least; I want to share a poem written by one participant during the practice of creating images in the workshop.


‘Being put in a scene of a child.

Exploring the World – innocent.

Listening to music.

Playing with Stones.

Discovering the World.

Creating something.

Shaking water.

Being connected.

And then – suddenly- leaving this space.

Doors opening and closing brutally.

Childhood is over.

Lights on!

Be serious again’