Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Drill Hall’

Storytelling Starters ~ Attitude

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Tableau_vivant_Nederlands-Indië_TMnr_60050223[1]Our local cinema, the Ritzy in Brixton, has a  giant noticeboard above the entrance with names of the films it’s currently showing. Occasionally this noticeboard shows a birthday greeting, presumably to someone local. At the start of this week, there was a quite different message. It was:  


Of course, that message caught my attention.  I wondered if it could be a quote, perhaps from the great jazz artist, Miles Davis. A documentary film about him was due to be shown with a Q and A session to follow. Then the message persisted in getting my attention whenever I thought about it during the week.  Attitude is a word with so many connotations. Often, it’s used with ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to convey a suitable or unsuitable approach, especially from pupils, students or persons at work. It can be feisty, even threatening. ‘Don’t give me that attitude.’

Attitude: a theatrical form (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ It happened to me

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

A couple of days ago, I went into my optician’s. The receptionist looked rather surprised.  I said I’d come to see if they could fix my dark glasses. He said he’d literally just picked up the phone to ring me to say my new glasses were ready for picking up. ‘Uncanny,’ he said and I agreed. The fact of having to wait for my new glasses had been the reason for wearing the dark ones. But last night at the theatre one lens of the dark ones was suddenly gone at the interval. We scrabbled around under the seats and, fortunately, the missing lens was there, unbroken. Phew!


Cropped paperweightIt’s always a strange thing, that sense of synchronicity or coincidence. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but it has come to the fore several times recently in comments readers of this blog have sent in. After last week, these comments gave me a tingling sense of a new kind of storytelling community – one that exists on the web.

For ages, it’s been a belief of mine that community and storytelling go together. A common interest in stories literally brings people together.  The weekend after next it will be the Annual Gathering of the Society for Storytelling, this year being held in Cardiff. When the revival of storytelling was beginning to gather momentum in this country, the SfS played an important part in forging links between storytellers and helping to support new ones. The same thing had happened with the monthly Drill Hall workshops I ran for ten years from the mid-80s to the mid-90s with my friend and colleague Karen Tovell. Common interests create community and in the case of the Drill Hall workshops, they also helped develop a shared way of working that could then be used with all kinds of community groups.

Storytelling gets people sharing ideas and making friends. This can happen in a one-off workshop or a course that lasts over a number of weeks. It can happen in storytelling clubs as attenders get to know each other or  in a classroom situation as children hear new aspects of each other in how they respond to stories. 

Stories across the world-wide web: (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Without Words

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Cloud from PaulLast Thursday evening, I went to see the English National Ballet in a performance of Romeo and Juliet. The Royal Albert Hall was the venue and the fact that the performance was in the round, not on the normal proscenium-arch stage, made a fascinating difference. Lost were the usual sight-lines and symmetries but with such a large, free area for movement and wonderful enactment of the roles, there was huge intensity of emotion. 

Here was storytelling without words. It brought out strongly the enmity between the two families, the Capulets and Montagues. It emphasised the desperate plight of the two young lovers.

The Romeo and the Juliet were unbelievably good. They showed all the freshness and joy of young love, its amazement at its own good fortune, its passion and ultimately heartbreak. At various points, diaphanous cloaks were used. As they swirled about, they looked a bit like the cloud in my photo.

Without words – the workshop technique

Storytelling without words? It reminds me vividly of how much can be gained from a special workshop technique. With adults or children, after you’ve told a story, get them into groups of four or five and invite them to retell either the whole story or a part of it but without using words. OK – single words can be allowed if you like, but only as exclamations or as part of a rhythm. For of course there’s also what Karen Tovell and I used to call Voice Jazz where the emphasis is on retelling only using sounds.

Doing without words doesn’t half bring out the underlying currents, shapes and emotions of a story – the enmities, journeying, embracing, excluding, finding, losing … All find new strength of expression when there’s only movement or sound. It is as if wordlessness reveals a lot about the underlying meaning of words.   (more…)

Storytelling Starters: Desert Island

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Desert Island is a marvellous and deceptively simple game that was developed by myself and storytelling colleague, Karen Tovell. Karen and I made it up for one of our famous Drill Hall workshops. These were monthly day-long workshops which began in 1986 and went on for 10 whole years, moving in latter years to the Holborn Centre for the Performing Arts.

We covered a great deal of ground in those workshops. An enormous number of stories got told both by ourselves and participants too. We also developed a huge number of exercises and activities that enabled people to explore these stories, discovering their hidden depths and using them as take-off points for creating new tales. (By the way, one person who used regularly to come to the workshops sent me a great email this week saying he still uses some of the ideas and routines we did there. Any more of you out there?) (more…)