Latest post in my Storyworks Blog
Storytelling Starters ~ To inspire
The essential point of any storytelling workshop or course is to inspire and impart – not to disempower. Participants can be enthused in different ways and with diverse outcomes. They may become tellers of stories in their family lives. They may start telling, making and hearing stories with people they work with. They may even conceive the ambition to develop themselves as professional or semi-professional storytellers.
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, I felt particularly conscious of this multi-faceted effect. On Wednesday, I was at Warwick University doing one of my annual sessions with students on Hilary Minns’ storytelling module for people working with children. Thursday was the final session of my Kensington Palace course for parents. Both times, I felt the palpable excitement of people who have already started to experience the effects of their storytelling on children. And not only children. One Kensington Palace mother read us a story she’d written during the week. Beautifully written it was too. During the course, she told us, she felt she'd discovered a new facility for writing. She reported how affected her husband had been by this.
New skills, new confidence, new powers of invention: the KensingtonPalace crowd will, I feel sure, go on to great things. Already they are well into planning storytelling clubs for the children in the schools their children attend. I have offered my help in getting these going.
As for the Warwick University students, they'll soon be planning and writing their end-of-course dissertations. In doing this, they will be using and recording their own new awareness of the effects of stories on children.
Leading workshops - a particular skill
But it's an important point to make: leading workshops in such a way as to produce these effects is a particular skill of its own. I know I’m good at it (I should be by now!) and of course I know it’s not the only way of working as a storyteller. (I love the other ways, too.) But it does require a particular set of qualities – knowing how to put participants at their ease; activities that can involve all in the group, including the shyest; a storytelling style that does not show itself off but encourages people to feel they can do it too; a way of working that recognises and develops people's individual interests, skills and styles. And last but not least, a love of employing and sharing the ‘secrets’ of the storytelling art.
The need today
It’s a tall order. And it represents one of my current concerns about what’s happening with storytelling in education today. Right now, we badly need more storytellers who want to foster this way of working so there can be more parents, more teachers and more childcare workers spreading the joys and wisdoms of storytelling. Is enough happening to fund this kind of development? Are enough people aware of the need? What happens if and when this kind of workshop-running dies out?
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And now let me introduce myself
I am an author and storyteller. As a writer, I have recently completed a collection of personal tales, A Long Run In Short Shorts and am starting to look for a publisher for it. These tales are all stories I have previously told either socially or in my professional work as a storyteller.
My two most recently published books are Shemi’s Tall Tales and Stories for Young Children and How To Tell Them. The latter includes a CD of me telling the stories and chants in the book. Like all my other published books, these are available direct from me (payment via Paypal or by cheque.) Just click on My Publications in the menu top left for more details. Writing Voices by Teresa Cremin and Debra Myhill, published in 2012, includes a mini-chapter by me on storytelling in schools. Since October 2011, I've been enjoying writing my Storyworks Blog. The first part of each weekly posting appears at the top of this page.
My 30-year career as a professional storyteller has included work all over the UK as well as working trips abroad to Ireland, Tobago, America, South Africa and New Zealand. A considerable amount of my work has been in my native Wales. Adult performance has included a good deal of festival work and several one-woman shows, among them Travels with My Welsh Aunt and Shemi’s Tall Tales. I have done extensive training work with teachers, parents and interested others and have specialised in creative storytelling workshops. Work with children has comprised many hundreds of one-off visits to schools as well as dozens of long-term projects and residencies. A great deal of my work has been in Wales, some of it in Welsh.
I am currently devoting a lot of my time to writing. But I have not stopped storytelling. An adult performance? A workshop? A school visit? Just be in touch to let me know where you are and what you want and I’ll see if we can fix a booking. Click on Contact Me for my contact details.
And please do keep in touch with my ideas, experience and stories via my Storyworks Blog. Or click on Storyworks in the menu top left or on the Storyworks logo to read about my Storyworks approach to storytelling, its principles and practice.
Do please contact me to discuss bookings or for any further information