Storytelling for adults has been likened to stand-up comedy with a plot. I like to weave complex tales, stories within stories, and have unexpected twists. My repertoire includes folk tales from Britain and Ireland, stories from the Middle East and the Silk Road, along with yarns from Finland and above the Arctic Circle.
Shows for adults and 11+ teenagers include:
Eat Me: Tales of Food and Cunning St Wulfric gives a greedy boy a lesson, whilst Poor Tom is generous to a friend. A magician from Toledo must outwit the Inquisition… and a beautiful woman teaches a caveman how to love – all with the aid of food.
Lands of Mystery and Desire Chinese and Japanese monsters, yokai, and hairy things. Brides turn into Foxes, old ladies into ogres. Thrill at the shenanigans of Mrs No.3, and weep at the fate of The Concubine in the Snow. I’ve posted a video of one story: The Boy Who Drew Cats.
Medievalia Tales from Medieval and early Renaissance Europe: wise and foolish knights, wily peasants, courtly love versus rumbustious naughtiness. Stories from the Gesta Romanorum, El Conde Lucanor, Boccaccio, and Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight A knight’s journey across a wintry landscape. He seeks certain death, but the greatest danger is unexpectedly alluring.
“The most enjoyable ‘Gawain and the Green Knight’ I have yet seen. It storms along with an intelligent irreverence, yet is able to be truly magical when wonder is called for. It sparkles with a particularly glorious English humour. I’ve not had this much spirited pleasure from anything ‘Arthurian’ since Footsbarn Theatre’s work in the late 1970’s.”
Gawain was shortlisted for Outstanding Adaptation by the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence in 2012.
Silk Road Stories The audience travel from East to West, with tales from China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Arabia, Turkey and Italy, weaving the history of the great trade route with the stories of the regions. Despite the wide variety of countries, the same themes occur in all cultures: love, and trickery (sometimes together).
The Poorest Hee In 1647, after 5 years of civil war, the men of the New Model Army asked the question: “What is the point of fighting the King’s Tyranny, if we only end up with another set of Great Men over us?” They wanted the vote, and they wanted land. Did they get either? Come and see….
“I think that the poorest Hee that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest Hee; and therefore truly, Sir, I think itt clear, that every Man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own Consent to put himself under that Government…”
Thomas Rainsborough, at the Putney Debates, 1647
Naughty Japanese Badgers
Tanuki are naughty wild dogs who tip over bins and steal the contents. In folklore they are far more impish: they can transform themselves into lovely ladies, old Buddhist monks, teakettles, fence-posts…. They have an insatiable appetite for fried noodles and saké, and they love to play tricks on unwary travellers.
Release your Inner Badger! (They’re really very naughty.)
Woman of the Lombards
A Dark Age Barbarian Queen who offed a couple of husbands. The monkish chroniclers were very disapproving. I take you back to 572A.D. for an epic Clash of Civilisations.
I also offer workshops in:
- Beginner’s storytelling: Breaking down and remaking a story, how to engage an audience, and vocal technique.
- Voice work: Nurturing your voice, breathing, projection, and how to add vocal colour.
- Narrative structure: Plot, story and narrative arc, the use and abuse of archetypes, and what makes a tale interesting.
- Using songs and stories together: Ways of integrating song, music and rhythm into performance, plus useful sources of material.
These are tailored to suit the needs and experience of the group, and are between two and six hours in duration.
Storytelling brings huge benefits to children; it can improve speaking and listening, increase vocabulary and lengthen concentration span.
It can transmit positive values effortlessly and is useful for Personal, Social and Health Education. Children love being told a story; without a book there is more scope for full eye contact and interaction between class and storyteller. Good storytelling can bring history to life and open windows into other cultures. My repertoire for children includes tales from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
This form of Japanese storytelling was originally performed by bicycling Kamishibai Men, touring the villages selling sweets. They presented picture-based stories from miniature theatres on the backs of their bicycles (Kami means paper, and shibai means drama) to attract customers. I tell several of these attractive fables, including The Mouse’s Wedding, The Weaver Princess, and The Turtle and the Fisherman. They are ideal for nursery, reception, and primary age children, particularly children who have English as an additional language.