Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ So many stories

Sometimes it proves very difficult to hold together the different levels of story that come your way in this hard world.

Festival at the Edge

A week ago, I spent the day at the Festival at the Edge in Much Wenlock. Being driven up the track to the festival site by my friend Sal Tonge, I was reminded of the times I’ve performed there and the associated feelings of anticipation, nervousness and pleasure. I hadn’t been back for several years. This time as so often, the rain poured down, then the sun came out. I saw many lovely friends, people I’ve worked with in performance or workshops. I also went to three excellent storytelling sessions, each very different in type. Tanya Batt was dramatic and very, very funny. One of Daniel Morden’s stories brought a tear to my eyes, always to me a sign of a deep story well told. Liz Weir took on two big, powerful stories and interwove them with great poise and purpose. One was an old Irish legend, the other a true story of three brothers from an Irish family in the First World War.

A migrant’s story

P1060771I came away from the festival refreshed in my sense of the diversity of story and its ability to connect with different parts of myself. Now, a week later, I’ve just read a painful article about migrants trying and failing to reach a better, safer life in the EU.

It’s a piece by Daniel Trilling in the current issue of London Review of Books and it brings attention to the truth that a story can also be a report of painful and very current reality.

Trilling’s article ends with a brief account of a journalist from Turkey who is  just one of the migrants now virtually imprisoned in a temporary accommodation centre in the Ukraine. This journalist had fled from Turkey because he was threatened with arrest. He and his wife had tried to cross into Hungary with their three teenage children but were refused entry. To be so circumscribed in the centre where he is now being kept must be hell for this man. He’s obviously creative and has been extremely productive in the past. On a shelf in his bedroom, Trilling saw some of the books he’s written, including several historical novels, a biography of a Crimean feminist and a book about beekeeping.

‘I don’t feel I have freedom here,’ the man said to Trilling. ‘We have a roof over our head and I can spend time with my family, but I can’t even leave here to buy a drink or eat a meal by myself. I cannot call this a life.’

P1060775Different levels of story

As I said at the beginning, it’s sometimes very difficult to hold together the different levels of story in this hard world. Sometimes story is entertainment, sometimes it is real and painful life.

P.S. I couldn’t think of what photo to include this week until I caught sight in my study of the South American story-doll given to me once by Kevin Crossley-Holland. The story-doll bears so many little figures on her back. So many people …so many stories. We have to accept the painful ones alongside the ones that are enjoyable to hear.


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