Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Story Hunting Part 1

What can be more alluring to a wordaholic than evangelising about stories, and making them relevant? I can't think of anything.

Having spent most of my life reading everything I could get my hands on, until not so very long ago I didn't really even think that the telling of a story, unscripted, out loud, to an audience, could be where it comes most alive. But it can. And it is! I spent most of last week in Worcestershire at 'Story-telling camp' exploring hundreds of different ways of 'freeing' a traditional story (I'm sure it would work for other stories too) from its text form. It's actually more helpful if you DON'T think of it as text, major discovery of the week. Up until recently, I'd almost always learnt or composed lines, memorised them, and then recited them back unless I was telling very informally. I was good at that. Storytelling, real live Storytelling there is nothing of the 'comfort zone' about it - but it's vital, exciting, and relevant in a way that scripted things simply can't be, I don't think! I had to get used to my own speaking voice again. But the stories...oh, the stories I heard, and saw, and learnt, and discovered. I have to learn how to do it myself. So, I will. Well, I am.

So this week's educational reading is Afanasiev's Russian Folk Tales, Angela Carter's Virago Book of Fairy Tales, Hrolf's Saga Kraka, and Snorri's Prose Edda. I'm hunting a trickster fable, and a tellable section of an Epic, for Story Camp Take 2 the week after next.

Watching the masters at work was another pleasure of this week. I took myself off to see Jo Blake telling The Girl Who Became a Boy (Adam and Eve, Tiresias, a brave soldier girl, a talking horse and a case of mistaken identity...and lots lots more) at the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton.

Jo Blake in a previous show - no pics of the new one online!

Now, I don't usually travel half way up the country on a school night to see a performance billed to last less than the time it took to get there, so I was completely delighted that it was so much more than worth it! Even before I knew what was going on in the story, I loved her voice, and the way she didn't need to do exaggerated accents to suggest character. I can't usually sit still for more than half an hour without starting to fizz and buzz and fidget in the most annoying way...but if my legs went dead during this performance (which was so packed there was only room to sit around the edges) I didn't notice until it was over. Just her, on stage, two props and a cardigan, with two musicians off to the side playing the occasional interlude. Hahhh. Amazing.

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