Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘coincidence’

Storytelling Starters ~ How amazing is that!

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

IMG_20170203_142128_resized_20170210_114149557People who’ve been reading A Long Run in Short Shorts have been sending me lovely comments. Many have noticed how I love coincidences. And they’re right. I do. I’ve been thinking a lot about why. One reason, I’m sure, is that they simply bring pleasure. ‘How amazing is that,’ we say and, suddenly, it feels like the universe isn’t completely chaotic or random (which it certainly isn’t as any physicist will point out). More than that, as one friend put it only this morning on the phone, ‘it makes you feel like there’s a little connecting network in life that pulls us together.’

So it’s what they mean to you that matters. For me, the pleasure and surprise they bring leads, I hope, to a deeper awareness of what I value in life. In this connection, what follows are two tales where coincidence is important. One is a West African folktale – I’ve mentioned it before so I’ll make my retelling  brief. The other is an incident that happened to me in Cardiff last week.

The Three Brothers – a West African folktale

One by one, three brothers receive from their father the money he has kept for them. Each in turn goes off to see the world. Each in turn buys something of great interest to him. Then, after a time, they all decide to head back home. Amazing! It seems that entirely by chance, the three of them meet at a crossroads.

Now what happens? Each shows the others that object of great interest which he has bought in the course of his travels. The objects are a telescope, a prayer mat and a ritual whisk of the kind used back home in religious ceremonies. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Double wow!

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

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When coincidences happen, they often come as pleasing surprises. ‘How amazing is that!’ But coincidence itself is far from being unusual in stories. Indeed, it’s extremely common, a key element in what makes a story into a story. Whether it’s a traditional tale or a personal one, coincidence creates a sense of purpose,  a feeling of something meant. Thus when three brothers in an African story go off to explore the world, each goes in a different direction. But when all three eventually decide to go home, what happens? Completely without any plan to do so, they happen to meet at a crossroads and it’s as a result of their apparently accidental meeting that their story takes shape and develops its point.

I love coincidences. I look out for them. (I think storytellers may be prone to them!) So how about this for a good one? Actually, it’s a two-part coincidence – what you might call a double wow!

Last Friday, I was about to set out for Castell Henllys, the iron-age fort in North Pembrokeshire where I’d done a training day back in the summer. The event this time was to be an Author Tea and in my bag were copies of each of the various books I’ve either written or compiled. Just as I was about to leave the house, the telephone rang. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ C for Campaign

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

It’s not been a brilliant week. A good friend and colleague with whom I was chatting has just learned that the funding streams for some of her very well-established work with Early Years children and staff have been cut for next year. Then at the end of the week, I got the news that storytelling workshops I was due to do at a conference in London next Thursday were being cancelled due to insufficient take-up. Two swallows do not make a summer and two pieces of disappointing news do not denote a bad winter. But they do give pause for thought.

C for Campaign

Time for a Campaign about the importance of Storytelling in Education? I think so. Even the seaweed on a beach where I walked this week seemed to be in agreement. In another sense, so was an email I received from the Headteacher of Brady School in Rainham. I’d written to let him know about the Blog where I talked about those wonderful letters that had come from children at his school following the Local Legends project I’d done there back in 1997. His email said he remembered the project and its impact. ‘The quality of work from the children showed just how much they became integrated into the project.’

It’s exactly this kind of point that Arts people are currently making in the press and elsewhere about why the arts in schools are important and why their place should not be diminished. Like visits from authors, artists and theatre companies, storytellers coming in to schools can make a huge impact on children. It gives them something to remember, something that awakens their imagination, something that can work in their memory-banks long after the particular occasion where the seeds of new thought and ideas are planted.

C for Coincidence

Pondering the many ways in which storytelling has been able to thrive in education, I thought about Storytelling Clubs in schools and the dedicated work my storytelling friend, Debbie Guneratne, has been doing in that area. I wrote about it in Mirror, Mirror, one of the personal tales I’ve recently been working on. Mirror, Mirror is a story about stories and storytelling. As well as an extraordinary coincidence, it figures an African folktale I very much love. I hope you enjoy my piece of writing and tell the tale to someone else.

Mirror, mirror

Debbie, has been one of the country’s pioneers in setting up storytelling clubs in schools. On several occasions I’ve gone along to give talks when children in her clubs have been participating in celebratory events where, typically, they tell their stories to invited listeners – teachers, parents and other school children. On each occasion when I’ve done such a talk, I have of course told a story.

Once, the story I chose was an African story that I’d heard some years before from another storytelling colleague, Karen Tovell. Although it’s never become a regular part of my repertoire, it’s a story that often comes to my mind because of the way it draws attention to the beauty of the natural world and the way artists can help bring that beauty to other people’s awareness. (more…)