Posts Tagged ‘National Storytelling Week’

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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Chloe by Vesi

Shh! Storyteller invades libraries... (Photo by Vesi Kovacheva)

Looks like National Storytelling Week 2011 might actually get noticed, out here in the wilds of the Cotswolds.
It is the 10th anniversary, after all.

Between Saturday 29 January and Saturday 5 February – with overspill! – the storytellers of Britain get their tiny annual chance to be heard among the wailing of TV talent shows and the deafening, deadening drone of politics. 

I’m doing FREE performances to promote the cause: 3 Feb for adults and 5 Feb for families. See my website February page  http://www.midnightstorytellers.co.uk/wb/pages/diary/february.php 

This week I join a babble of Gloucestershire storytellers to record interviews and stories at our local BBC Radio Station. Diana, Fiona, Glenn, Josie, Kirsty, Tim and I are fabulously diverse in our styles and storytelling subjects. We include a business consultant, a coracle maker and museum staff.

We’ve juggled diaries so we can go into studio together and be each other’s live audience. Talking to a microphone is weird if you’re not used to it.

It’s a bit of a breakthrough. But I must confess to flinching when the nice BBC lady told me that our stories should not exceed three minutes. As if we were doing songs.  I pleaded, Don’t cut our wings off! – at which the lady relented and allowed us five minutes each.

She quoted the latest BBC research which states that radio listeners can’t cope with more than 5 consecutive minutes on one subject. Hmm… Better not try to force Radio 4 into that straitjacket…

Nine years of presenting solo one-day seminars around the English speaking world – before I took to storytelling – taught me that humans need a new topic about every eight minutes. Live storytelling is different again: so vivid, so gripping, that New York’s Story Café advises ideal story length is 12 minutes.

…Anyway, BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s 9am-12noon programme features a group interview on Saturday 29 January plus a different voice and tale every morning Monday 31st – Saturday 5 Feb. All scheduled for 11.30am unless displaced by news.

I’ll also be allowed a little rant on behalf of the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaign. You’ve seen in other blogs (and on national tv news!) my winter forays to protest against drastic cuts that look increasingly likely to be imposed, regardless of loud and clear public opinion.

Listen on 104.7FM, 95.8FM, 95FM or 1413 AM or online at www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire

And one of our storytellers has announced he’s turning up in ‘evening dress’ (frock, lippy + eyelashes!) – it’s Dress UP for Work Day (for the Cobalt health charity).

Gloucestershire NSW events 

  • Saturday 29 January 10.30am Children’s Storytelling – Fiona Eadie and Kelvin Hall at Ruskin Mill, Nailsworth. Tel 01453 837537     www.rmet.org.uk
    www.fionaeadieltd.co.uk
  • Monday 31 January 7.30pm ‘Winter Tales’ – Valerie Dean and Glenn Smith from Newent Story Circle entertain at Newent Library. FREE SHOW.
    ‘Gloucestershire Storytelling’ is a FaceBook group.
  • Thursday 3 February 7.30pm ‘Tales of Lust & Chocolate’ – FREE performance of Chloë’s best selling Story Cabaret at Lechlade Library. A delicious assortment of romance and mild naughtiness from around the world. Contains playful adult references; suitable for age 16+ only. Chocolate nibbles by Dolci di Lechlade. Limited space; please book 01367 252631.
    www.midnightstorytellers.co.uk
  • Saturday 5 February 12 noon Read-In at Moreton in Marsh Library – With FREE family storytelling by Chloë of the Midnight Storytellers. Suitable for age 8+ and for adults. Supporting the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaign against excessive cuts. Part of a UK wide day of celebrating libraries as a vital resource, especially for rural communities. (Library staff are not involved in this event)
    www.foclibrary.wordpress.com
    www.midnightstorytellers.co.uk
  • Sunday 6 February 2pm-4pm ‘Woven Yarns: Stories from the loom’ – Fiona Eadie at The Museum in the Park, Stroud. Inspired by myths and legends surrounding the weaver’s craft, and by the long tradition of weaving in the Stroud Valleys. Suitable for families (age 7+). www.museuminthepark.org.uk