Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Personal experience’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ Stars

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

How fantastic it can be to see stars whether in the night sky or on stage. Stars in the sky are a thrill: as you look, they seem to call you up to the sky to join them. On stage, stars give out a similarly thrilling kind of brightness. This week, I saw and heard some very special ones at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, the Welsh National Eisteddfod in Cardiff. What was especially exciting about the particular three I’m thinking about right now is that they were all under 21 years old.

Eisteddfod is an interesting word. Eistedd in Welsh means sit or sitting. Bod (mutated here to fod) means being. So, to me, the word eisteddfod immediately summons up the sense of people sitting together, being together. It brings with it a strong feeling of community and also a big sense of expectation. What is going to happen? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Sussurations

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

Funny how one does – and doesn’t! – do things. Yesterday I took the step of entering Peach Blossom Story in my Google search box. Up came numerous links to a restaurant called Peach Blossom. But there were also listings that led to one of my most treasured stories. I know it as Peach Blossom Forest. I’ve long been aware that it’s a very ancient  Chinese story and in my almost as ancient and extremely scruffy storytelling notebook are five or six lines of translated-into-English Chinese poetry that are associated with it.

Peach Blossom Forest is one of the two main stories I told at our Summer Enchantment performance at Peppers in Fishguard this last Wednesday evening. (The other was last week’s story, The Stolen Child.) But – and this is perhaps the odd bit – I’d never until yesterday felt I needed to know anything more about this story than the story itself. Indeed, I’ve long treasured it almost as my own tale, so personal and private that I’m not sure I’ve ever told it before. But yesterday, reflecting on the tale as if from afar after reading about it on Google, I realised how strongly my private feelings about the story – more generally known, I see now, as Peach Blossom Spring – reflect the story itself. (more…)

Storytelling Starter ~ The Stolen Child

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Peppers is in Fishguard, the Pembrokeshire town of my birth and the first 14 years of my life. It’s also the venue for Summer Enchantment, the evening of songs and stories which Paul and I will be performing next Wednesday, August 1st, with David Pepper at the piano.

Paul will be singing the songs. I’m planning to tell two main stories plus a couple of short ones. One of the big ones is the story I know as The Stolen Child. It’s a Scottish story which I’ve relocated to the Pembrokeshire coast. If you might possibly be there on August 1st, perhaps you should stop reading now. On the other hand, does it matter if, when you start hearing a story, you realise you already know it? I don’t think so. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The Listening Room

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Hall Place is a Tudor house in Bexley. It was built in 1537, it has beautiful stonework and large gardens, including some very lovely trees, and yesterday a friend took me there to visit.

An aspect of our visit that interested me greatly was the large room upstairs which, for three years during the Second World War, had been The Listening Room. It’s where twenty GIs spent their days, eight hours a day for seven days in a row before they were allowed a day off. Headphones on, their task during each of those seven days was to listen via their headphones to German military talk and to transcribe it before sending it on to Bletchley to be decoded. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Serious stuff

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

This week, down in Pembrokeshire, I saw a boy sitting on a stone pillar at the back of Abereiddi beach. He was probably about 10 years old, in his hands was a book, a proper book, and he was reading. When we left the beach an hour or two later, he was still there, still reading. The sight felt emblematic to me of those things that make me feel joyful.

On Thursday evening on S4C (that’s the Welsh channel), there was an equally hope-inspiring item on a programme about the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. A choir from Indonesia was performing and a background item from Indonesia itself focused on a school where dance and music and other arts items play as prominent a part in the curriculum as any other subject. I think it was the Principal of the school who, in an interview, said how important the arts are considered to be all over her country. ‘We feel they give the children sensitivity.’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The Rag-and-Bone Man

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Last week it was bags. This week it’s rags, namely things which are so well-worn that, in times gone by, they were  generally only good for passing on to the rag-and-bone man. One such used to come round our streets with his horse and cart collecting big old items such as an old mattress and bags full of unwanted small items too. I remember the tone of his cry though I never worked out quite what he was saying.

My well-worn stuff this week is a joke, one which has been told so many times by me that it could well qualify as good only for the rag-and-bones man except that it possesses the extraordinary quality of still being able to make people laugh. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Bags

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Handbag, sandbag, eyebag, party bag … Bags have always been a passion of mine to the extent that, these days, creating birthday cards to send to friends, I attribute them to Old Bag Productions. I suppose my passion began long ago: taking part in Eisteddfod competitions as children, we’d be given beautiful little lace-edged bags, a coin inside, as prizes. Afterwards I’d hang mine from the mirror on the dressing table in my bedroom.

Bags can be fascinating in themselves – ‘Why have you got that bag, Miss?’ – and that’s one of the strongest reasons I’ve always loved them in my storytelling work, and not only when working with children. But also the fact that you’re carrying a bag naturally leads on to more. So much can go into bags, so much come out.  A beautiful cloth, an endearing soft toy, a strange sound-making instrument. Or maybe what emerges is another smaller bag with, inside it, a collection of objects for a particular story. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The Happy Prince …

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

The Happy Prince is the new film by Rupert Everett. It took him ten years to get it off the ground and last night was its opening night. We went to see it at the Curzon cinema in Victoria (small and extremely comfortable). The film deals with the last wretched years of Oscar Wilde’s life after he was released from Reading Gaol where he had been imprisoned for ‘acts of gross indecency’. Since homosexuality was legalised, Oscar Wilde could not have been so cruelly punished.

Some of the most touching scenes in the film are where Oscar Wilde is telling stories to children. Early on, it’s to his own two little boys. Later, it’s to two French boys who spend time around him during his exile. The story he tells them is one of his own, The Happy Prince. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Tour d’Amour

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

It sounds odd to say it. But it was so. In the early days of what became the Storytelling Revival in the UK, there was a distinct whiff of opposition to writing. Storytelling was, and is, very different from reading aloud and different too from writing: we storytellers felt at that time that, in public at least, we had to proclaim, reveal and uphold the differences.

By now, a good number of well-known storytellers in the UK – Hugh Lupton, Sally Pomme Clayton, Daniel Morden among them – have published books. I’ve published books too, nine in all, and I feel I can now admit to enjoying both the differences and similarities between the two forms. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Learning to fly

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

What is it about doing something new that you’ve never done before? The nerves? Worry that you’ll mess it up? Thursday morning I was to do an interview on Skype with Kathy Brodie who runs and presents Early Years TV. I’d not heard either of her or Early Years TV until a recent email relating to the promotion of my new book.

Early Years TV offers a weekly interview done by Kathy with all kinds of people who do early years work. When I got in touch with her after the email from my indefatigable Marketing Manager at Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Kathy said yes to my being one of her interviewees. It would be an interview about storytelling and it would happen via Skype at a mutually convenient date and time, the resulting video to appear on Early Years TV at some as yet to be scheduled date in the future. (more…)