~ Lou-Lou, 1st Hay-on-Wye Cubs, age 9
I have for many years, been telling tales for audiences of all ages, both in spoken word and in song; performing in schools, scout-meetings, folk clubs, festivals, pubs and parties. I'm also the regular children's storyteller at Hay-on-Wye Library. If you’d like me to come and tell stories for you, or if you just want to know more, please get in touch ~ I’d love to hear from you.
What Do You Mean By Storytelling?
Performances can vary a great deal, depending on the occasion, the audience and the stories being told. They may involve costumes and props, or they may not. They may be told entirely in song, or they may involve bits and pieces of music here and there, or none at all. They can be theatrical in nature, or very relaxed and informal.
Perhaps a Few Examples Would Help...
Storytelling at a primary school is often based on a topic being studied by the children. It usually involves costume and props, and includes stories suited to the topic, along with a bit of music, and songs that the children can join in. School performances may also involve workshop activities if requested.
A performance in a pub is likely to be more informal and less likely to be costumed. If there is a theme to the event, then stories (and possibly songs) would be picked to fit the theme, although with some flexibility, depending on the audience. If there is no particular theme, then the audience and the flow of the event would have much more bearing on the mix of stories.
Performing at a festival or a convention might mean a set piece, performed in costume, and possibly in-character, carefully planned and tightly rehearsed... or it might mean a much more informal, intimate event, with an audience of avid story-listeners, whose own participation has a strong influence on the direction of proceedings.
There are many other possibilities, and they can be planned and arranged to suit whatever your requirements happen to be.
What Sorts of Stories Do You Tell?
Many of the stories I tell are traditional folk tales, from the myths and faerie tales of the British and Irish folk traditions, as well as the European ones made so familiar by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, not to mention those that come from Classical and Norse Mythology. Some are from further afield, drawn from the Far East, or the folk traditions of Russia, whose tales of Bogatyrs and Baba-Yagas* hold a particular fascination for me.
Some of the stories are more modern, based on the works of authors you will have heard of - Shakespeare and Kipling are particularly fertile ground, but they are not alone! I do write some of the stories myself (especially ghost stories for Hallowe'en), whether weaving them with fresh threads, or stitching together scraps of old yarns and embroidering them into something new. This can include writing a new story specifically for a particular occasion.
Finally, the real history of the world enthrals me almost as much as its myths and legends, and many of my stories come from there. In fact, when she was five years old, my eldest daughterís favourite bedtime story was about Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow. I kid ye not...
*Thatís right: I said Baba Yagas. There’s more than one of them; sometimes up to three in the same story!
You Said Something About Songs?
Why yes, yes I did. Telling tales in songs or ballads is very much a part of the storytelling tradition, and one that I am particularly fond of. I have a large repertoire of such songs, and am always keen to add to them, whether by hearing an old song that I hadnít come across before, or by writing them myself.
I usually sing a capella, although I also play a number of instruments, which I sometimes use to add flavour to a story.
~ Garry Smith, Deputy-headmaster, Llanigon School.
~ Susie Stockton-Link, Folk singer and member of the Village Quire.
~ Alan Ritchie, Folk musician.