Amid the fury and political stench of the battle for Gloucestershire’s libraries, it was a relief to turn my attention to the 10th anniversary of National Storytelling Week.

Six storytellers from across Gloucestershire, plus me, squeezed into a BBC Radio studio to record mini interviews and 5 minute tales. Some spoke of the oral tradition; some told of new work; one spun an outrageous Hollywood-style fictitious origin of his interest in storytelling… We’re storytellers: what d’you expect?!

NSW events across the county also reflected the mixed fortunes of modern storytelling. Two ‘tellers masked their disappointment as best they could at the paltry turn-out for their evening in a rural library. Free of charge, too. As often happens, the small audience were swept away by the magic and sheer other-ness of the stories. In a delicious touch of reality-swap, the cherries from one tale appeared on a plate for us audience to nosh at the interval.

My own NSW performance was packed out, partly because people in that little town have the habit of enjoying events at their local library – Aha! Another good thing in a LIBRARY! D’you sense a theme here?! – and probably partly because we gave away gourmet chocolate… Radio mentions and good networking probably helped double the expected numbers for the final NSW Gloucestershire event at Stroud’s Museum in the Park, where the storyteller themed her tales to match an exhibition about the tradition of weaving in the Stroud valleys.

Even as the last syllables of NSW floated away, I sent myself on a training course. It was an extension of Bristol’s NSW Storytelling Festival (noted for packing in young, funky audiences) and the 2 days were led by top notch modern storyteller Michael Harvey. He’s been wowing audiences with ‘Hunting the Giant’s Daughter’, a fiery and entrancing Welsh legend complete with hilarious heroic lists and jazz in Welsh.

Continuous professional development for storytellers is.. different. Mind and body get stretched. For me, the course couldn’t have come at a better time: I’m starting to work with very different, very new material and Michael was opening up new ways of bringing stories to life in our own re-tellings. Mind you, I swear there were sharp intakes of breath when the other storytellers worked out what my new story is about…

Oh dear. Looks like I’m going to break the rules again.

  • National Storytelling Week happens in the last week of January/first week of Febrary, Saturday to Saturday
  • Details of the Gloucestershire storytellers involved are in my previous posting ‘Babble On 7’ [26 January 2011]
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