Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘BASE Awards’

Storytelling Starters ~ Awarded

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

It was a wet and windy night. Yet in Milton Keynes last Saturday, October 12th, inside the Creed Street Arts Centre in Wolverton, the welcome was warm and hospitable. We were there for the award-giving Ceremony for this year’s BASE awards.

Lots of people had come. Shonaleigh and Peter Chand hosted. A great Spoken Words Artist, Richard Frost, acted as compere for the evening. Stories were told, awards were given, acceptance speeches made. Last up, I was made the delighted recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. As on every day since by the emails and phone calls that have followed, I felt extremely touched and honoured.

What I’m most pleased and proud about is that the Award feels like a recognition of the particular approach to storytelling that has been mine now for 30-odd years. It’s an approach I share with many others and it forms the basis of this weekly blog. I describe it as a sharing approach where, whatever the kind of storytelling occasion, be it a performance to adults or a session with Under-5s, the storyteller is in one way or another reaching out to others and in so doing acknowledging the truth that we all have stories inside us. Some stories we may not like to hear. Some may need help to be told. Some will be well told, some very badly. Some can be acknowledged only in the listening. But no single storyteller has all the stories or all the ways of telling them. Stories are our common wealth and I love and treasure the telling, the listening and the sharing.

P.S. Lots of people have asked what I got. My photo displays the answer. I hope it gives you an idea of the loveliness of the blue. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ BASE Awards

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

This evening I’m off to the BASE Awards event in Wolverton. And if you don’t know where Wolverton is, it’s right next to Milton Keynes.

Ancient Egypt and Us

Milton Keynes is a resonant place-name for me. I once worked with a brilliant class of 10-year olds there. One of the topics in their class at the time was Ancient Egyptians. The other was Ourselves. Their teacher wanted a project to bring the two topics together.

Of course, it’s possible to tell stories from Ancient Egypt. I did – and the children loved them. But how is it possible to imagine the length of time that has passed since the Ancient Egyptians existed? These children certainly couldn’t. Like most children of their age, they had little sense at all of time passing. So I came up with the idea of a Memory Chart on which each child would use hieroglyphs of their own design to notate one memory for each year of their lives so far. We made an exception for their first four years: most people have few recollections from that period. So those years, we decided, could be lumped together and occupy just one box in each person’s chart.

Memory work

The children were brilliant. When we did the initial memory work, there was a lot of jotting down, telling and retelling of what had happened. Then came the making of the memory charts. Each person creating their own, the hieroglyphs designed by the children were fun and inventive. Last came the bit of the project when, working in small-ish groups, the children worked out clever creative ways to tell their small stories as a group. One group, I recall, created a fascinating audio-spiral of their stories where each different year in their memories was signalled by the sound of a gong.

Milton Keynes again

So Milton Keynes it will be tonight. The BASE awards organisers have worked very hard. I hope their Awards event proves a lovely, sociable success. What’s more, I hope it helps to promote and encourage all aspects of the art of storytelling. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Principles and Practice

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

It’s been a good week for thinking. There have been some lovely Autumn colours and I’ve been diverted from the new series I’d planned.

When I made the suggestion last Saturday that future BASE awards should include some that relate to storytelling in education, I started a hare in my own train of thought. Three comments that arrived in the course of the week have made me pursue it.

The proposed new English curriculum:

The comment from Mary – see below – notes that a stated intention of the proposed new English curriculum is that young people should learn to be confident speakers. I thoroughly agree with Mary’s feeling that we should all be celebrating this and finding out more about it. I also think she’s right to suspect that it probably means being able to give a speech and talk well at job interviews rather than storytelling – storytelling  no longer being on the agenda:

Storytelling in schools in decline:

The second comment from Jean notes how, in her own recent experience as a storyteller, longer and more substantial storytelling projects in schools have become so thin on the ground as to be just about non-existent. Even one-off day visits to schools have declined. The third comment from Liz says she is thinking of approaching local schools to see if she can go in to do stories with the children. Her inspiration is based on the belief that children need stories.  

So where are we headed?

Back in the 1980s the National Oracy Project pushed forward a huge new awareness of the value of the oral in education. I know from my own involvement how much exciting pioneering work was done at the time. The positive results were  just beginning to be disseminated when they were swamped by the sudden introduction of the National Curriculum. Gradually over succeeding years storytelling began making a comeback in schools. By the first decade of this century, there was a great deal going on. My own work gave me abundant evidence of how much , including in Early Years work, work with ESL children and the training of teachers.

But what is happening now? Over the last ten or fifteen years, a big expansion has taken place in what is now usually described as ‘performance storytelling’. Storytelling clubs for adults, festivals of storytelling, storytelling evenings – all these have mushroomed. And that’s great for everyone. After all, many storytellers who work in schools and community situations also do performance work. However, I do feel it’s time to think hard and aloud about the implications of this development, especially now that ‘celebrity’ has become so phenomenally important in the world around us. Is storytelling going to become largely a celebrity art? Does the performance side mean that less attention (and less support) will be given to the less visible kinds of storytelling work that take place in schools?

Some responses from me:

Here are a few of the ideas I’ve had while pursuing that hare in my own train of thought. Please do add to these or comment upon them as you see fit. (more…)