Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Hail Mighty Sea

What objects can be used to introduce and accompany storytelling? The question arrived in my Inbox this week in an email from a woman from Brazil who has newly come across storytelling and fallen in love with it. She already uses her guitar. But what else might she  employ? She’d found my website on the net and wanted to know of any books that could help.

The Magic of Objects was the theme of a series in this Blog on each Saturday of October 2011. Look them up, it’s a theme that’s close to my heart. My sea-tray … fans … colour cloths … magic music … such objects have given me enormous use in such wide-ranging circumstances. They have also observeably brought enormous pleasure to audiences of adults and children. In this week of wind and storms I have thought in particular about my sea-tray.

Hail Mighty Sea

I was first reminded of my sea-tray at the start of the week. Down on the sea-wall at Abereiddi beach, one of our Pembrokeshire favourites, words written out in pebbles declaimed the stirring message: Hail Mighty Sea.

On Abermawr beach the following day, a young boy on the pebbles was looking out to sea, arm raised in a great gesture of greeting as the incoming waves swirled over his Wellington boots. When I passed him soon after as he left the beach with his sister who’d done the same after him, they and their father looked completely delighted. The children were sopping wet but they’d had a unique experience(quite safely I might add). They’d hailed the sea in all its grandeur.

Both incidents in turn put me in mind of the Birmingham children who came on an exchange visit to the Cardiganshire coast in the art and storytelling project, On The Train, that was organised a few years ago now by artist Catrin Webster. The visiting children had whooped with delight when they caught their first sight of the sea (most of them had never seen it before) and had run pell-mell towards it and, in the case of some of them, right into it.

The sea is a fundamental experience. We should all be able to have that experience if we possibly can. If only! In the Guardian recently, George Monbiot, whose book Feral came out earlier this year, strongly urged the point that a week in the country is worth three months in the classroom. In his Guardian article he recommended that every class in every urban school should regularly be taken to spend time in the country. If only! The idea, alas, feels as unachievable in our present world as my profound wish that every class should hear (and be able to talk about) a told story once a week at the very least in every week of their school year.

Impossible? At least through stories we could give all children, older and younger, an experience of discovery and a sense of magic and awe.

The sea-tray

That’s where my sea-tray comes in. It produces the best sea-sound I’ve ever heard away from the sea itself. It can either introduce a storytelling session or a particular story. Or it can be employed in the course of a story. Use it and you take people on a real journey of the senses and the imagination.

Practical reminder:

My own sea-tray comes from a junk shop in New Zealand. It possibly originated in the South Sea Islands as a device for carrying fruit. I know similar trays are found across Asia and Africa where they are generally used for sifting rice or lentils.

To provide yourself with your own sea-tray, seek out a smooth or rough round wooden tray or perhaps a bodhran which is a type of wide Irish drum. Empty onto it a bagful of very small stones you’ve specially collected for the purpose or alternatively a bagful of beans. Swish these round in a rhythmic way, imitating the rhythms and pauses in the sound of the waves and – hey presto! – you could at once feel you were standing on the shore. Just like that delighted boy this week!

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Hail Mighty Sea”

  1. Liz Says:

    Thanks for your email.Sorry I didn’t get to see you at half term but it had been rather hectic here working and having the grandchildren to stay Love the blog on Abereiddy I love that place And yes I got the children to tell stories on Haloween which I hate .They even wrote in Welsh the story of when Eddie was out at sea Keep blogging I love it Lizxx

  2. admin Says:

    Glad you were telling stories on Halloween. We didn’t get many callers this year but we’d got a lot of chocolates ready. Now we’ll have to eat them up ourselves!

Leave a Reply