Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Arabian Nights’

Storytelling Starters ~ Settling into a story

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Roses 3Do stories need explanation? And what kind of explanations might be needed for a story from an unfamiliar culture? I did wonder a bit about these issues while preparing The Tale of Farizad of the Rose’s Smile for telling to the older children in Wolfscastle School this last Monday. No wide cultural diversity there except for that between Welsh and English. Probably little awareness of Muslim culture. No great variety among children’s names. Certainly nothing like Farid, Faruz and Farizad.

But what explanation does a good story need? I plumped for just going ahead, telling the story without explanation. First I’d told the wonderfully daft story of Shemi and the Enormous Cabbage. Older they might be but they enjoyed that a lot. Then I came to the Farizad story. This is in a very different vein and how it begins is rather a shock. For it tells how, over the course of the three years following the marriage of the King of Persia to the youngest of three sisters, the king is told that his queen has given birth to a dead dog, a dead cat and a dead mouse. Can this be true? No, these are just lies. The queen has actually given birth to three babies and it’s her jealous sisters who have made up the stories.

Would they stick with it? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Proof of power

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

What makes children sit up and listen?

What makes children remember what they’re told?

What makes children respond and comment without being obliged to do so?

Well, storytelling does. The trouble is, if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know the truth of that. It’s how to spread the awareness that is the problem.

All day this last Wednesday came evidence of how children can listen and be gripped. The supply of questions and comments was fulsome and never chaotic (evidence of a good school, I’d say). But the most extraordinary thing was how, all day, children were remembering stories I’d told them before. From Reception to Year 6, there was enormous keenness not just to identify what stories they’d heard but exactly what happened in them.  They also remembered my props. And it wasn’t just one or two children that were doing this, just about all of the children were bursting to say what they remembered.  Only the Nursery children didn’t – but then, they were new to the school.

The school was St Stephen’s in Shepherd’s Bush. I’d been there three times before. In the course of this week’s visit, one girl in one session put her hand up looking troubled. ‘I can’t remember these stories,’ she said. It obviously really bothered her that she didn’t, as if she was feeling really hurt that she’d missed out on something everyone else had experienced. We thought perhaps she’d been off school when I’d come before and she seemed content with that thought. But seeing her face, I realised the power of a communal event in which everybody can share and experience enjoyment. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Repertoire Refreshment 3: The Quest

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

So here’s the third of my blogs about that beautiful story from the Arabian Nights which I’m preparing for telling in a fortnight’s time.  The first blog gave a brief idea of the story as I’d remembered it over a number of years. The second itemised the three treasures in the story that I’d completely forgotten about. Now here’s the main body of the story.  I’ve simmered it down to its bare bones. That’s how I work when I’m starting from a written story. Visualisation must do the rest. Here goes.

The set-up:

P1070107Farizad and her two brothers, Farid and Faruz, live in the beautiful garden which was created by the gardener and his wife who were their parents.

Now the parents have died.

One day an old woman comes to the garden and says to Farizad: This garden is beautiful but it would be perfect with 3 rare treasures – the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree and the Golden Water. Farizad asks where these can be found? In the mountains on the road into India.

Farizad says she must go and find them. Farid and Faruz say, ‘No, we’ll go.’ But then they agree that one brother must stay to look after Farizad.

Quest of Brother No. 1 (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Repertoire Refreshment 2: The Golden Water

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

P1070096OK I found the book and identified the story I’d vaguely remembered. I had to search quite hard: the book turned out to be a hardback and bigger than I’d remembered. It’s Stories from The Arabian Nights,  the stories retold by Naomi Lewis with beautiful illustrations by Anton Pieck. I was surprised to see it was published way back in 1987 (Methuen Children’s Books). Did I review it for The School Librarian? I can’t remember and I can’t check – I recently threw out my old copies.

Three images from the story sang out as I re-read The Tale of Farizad of the Rose’s Smile. How could I have forgotten them? They’re what make the story so lovely. Each is something that must be obtained to make the garden where the girl and her brothers live into the most beautiful garden that it could be.

So this week I’ve decided to concentrate on those three items. The rest of the story can come next week. But now it’s time for visualisation. Time for the unspoken words that may come to mind as each of these three special things is really looked at. Time to imagine the scene they might make when they’re finally brought together in that already lovely garden.

Item One: The Talking Bird

If it was in your garden, the story says, all the birds of the air would flock to behold it. The bird is called Bulbul al-Hazar.

Item Two: The Singing Tree

If this tree was in your garden, all the lutes and harps in your home would break their strings with envy. Its leaves make a sound so ravishing that nothing can match its sweetness. (more…)