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Havoc In Heaven (Storytelling #1: The Folk Tale)

A long time ago, a stone sat at the top of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. For thousands of years, the stone absorbed energy from the sun, the moon, heaven, and earth. One day, the stone cracked open, and Monkey was born.

Monkey was strong, energetic, and intelligent. Soon, he became the Monkey King, led his fellow monkeys and ruled the mountain. They lived happy lives, but at the same time, Monkey feared death. He heard stories of people becoming immortal. He left the Mountain on a quest to be one of them

He studied as a disciple of a Kung Fu master for years. He became a strong fighter, who could travel 108 thousand miles in one leap. He learned the 72 Transformations, which let him change into anything he wanted.

He needed a weapon, so he went to Palace of the Dragon of the Eastern Seas. He pulled out the Pillar That Calms the Ocean. He shrunk the Pillar into a metal staff several feet long, took it, thanked Dragon, and left. The ocean roared and nearly swept away Dragon and his soldiers.

The King of Death tried to collect Monkey’s soul. Instead, Monkey defeated the King’s soldier. He grabbed the List of Mortals, scratched out names of him and his monkeys. “That was easy,” he thought. He became immortal. In Heaven, Jade Emperor received reports of the chaos, was set to have Monkey arrested.

“Why don’t we avoid shedding karma and offer him a job instead?” His aide suggested.

Jade Emperor agreed. He invited Monkey to Heaven and made him the Protector of the Horses, an important post overseeing the Imperial Stable. He became a diligent officer, keeping the horses healthy and well-fed. Then Monkey learned that there would be a Great Banquet serving Peaches of Immortality.

“Why haven’t I received an invitation?” Monkey wondered.

“That is because your rank is too low,” a worker replied.

Monkey was furious. He was fooled! He sneaked into the kitchen anyway, saw those delicious Peaches of Immortality, and ate one Peach after another. As he sat on the floor, feeling very full, he was found out by Jade Emperor and his Great Generals.

Monkey protested. He proclaimed himself to be “Great Sage Equal of Heaven.” He said Jade Emperor should step down and give him the throne.

“Enough of this nonsense. My Great Generals, arrest Monkey!” Jade Emperor ordered. Monkey fought against them. After a while, he felt bored and a bit tired. “This is unfair,” he said as he pulled out a bunch of his hair. Each hair became a replica of Monkey with the same power of him. Some fought the Great Generals while other running around the place. Jade Emperor had to retreat and ask Buddha for help.

Meanwhile, Monkey was having fun while suddenly, there was a bright flash, after which everyone was gone, except him and Buddha.

“I have heard that you want Jade Emperor to step down,” Buddha said calmly.

“He has been there long enough, and now it is my turn. I have mastered the 72 Transformations. And I can travel 108K miles with one leap, “ Monkey said.

“But can you get out of my palm with one leap?” Buddha asked.

“Of course!” Monkey insisted.

Then they wagered. If Monkey won, Buddha would tell Jade Emperor to step down. If Monkey lost, he had to leave Heaven alone. Monkey gave his biggest leap that he could. He felt like he traveled to the end of Heaven. He found five tall pillars there, and wrote on the middle one: “Monkey was there.”

“All right, old monk, now keep your promise,” Monkey said.

But it turned out that the five pillars were Buddha’s fingers, one of which had the words “Monkey was there.” After all, Monkey never left Buddha’s palm. Monkey was shocked. He thought it was a trick and protested loudly. But then Buddha turned his palm, yanking Monkey out of Heaven and towards Earth. “Boom!” The palm landed on Earth and become a mountain with five peaks. Monkey’s head was out, but his body was trapped under the mountain. He protested even louder. “Hey, you cannot do this do me. I am the Great Sage Equal of Heaven!”

Monkey was trapped for 500 years. The time was not spent in vain, though, as Monkey learned to became much more humble. It was a fitting training for his future mission: the Journey to the West.


Background

This was my very first advanced manual project. I chose the Storytelling manual because a couple of members of my club were working on it and they were telling great stories. I wanted to be like them even though I did not consider storytelling to be my thing. I did not ended up being a great storyteller like them, but that was another story.

Preparation

I encourage others who work on this project to take the opportunity to learn a new folk tale. However, I looked at several and did not find one that I prefer to tell. I ended up telling the more popular Chinese folk tale from the novel Journey to the West. Since that story is very long, I focused just on Monkey’s ordeal in Heaven, with some background information about his upbringing.

Feedback

A lesson from this speech, one that I could not help but learn many more times afterwards, was that there were two kinds of content-cutting: prepared and impromptu. Either the content fits the time frame or it does not. In the latter case, either you trim your speech beforehand, or you will do it anyway, on the spot, probably in a haphazard way, while giving the speech. Of course, cutting content is hard, and it was too easy to be confident that I would somehow speak fast enough and not stumble on words, hence the repeated lesson-learning.

My speech was too long even for the 7 to 9-minutes time frame. I ended up cutting out content here and there, including the part where Monkey peed on pillar that was Buddha’s finger.

My evaluator suggested that I differentiate the characters by using different voices. For example, my voice should sound different during Monkey’s dialog from when it was Buddha’s dialog. I liked that my evaluator showed me his interpretation of the dialog, “I am Buddha,” in a deep and calm voice.

I also thought that there were a lot of names in the story, such as “Great Sage Equal of Heaven”. I had a hard time recalling each and every of them. I should have spent more time memorizing them.

I did think, and the feedback that I got agreed, that I used hand gestures better than before, such as when showing how Buddha shoved Monkey out of Heaven and onto Earth.

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