Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Five Chinese Brothers’

Storytelling Starters ~ Recycling

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

Flag-of-Wales-thumbnail[1]OK, I admit it. Over the last few weeks, I’ve become a devoted football fan. Obviously that’s because I’m Welsh and the Wales football team did so brilliantly in the Euros. It wasn’t easy seeing them get knocked out against Portugal in their semi-final this Wednesday. Yet, especially in this post-Brexit world, it’s an inspiration that the team believes so much in the strength of playing as a team, they pay such high regard to their fans and the support they get from them, they speak with such warmth of their country and they have been so good-humoured during their time away in France.

Besides, Gareth Bale is drop-dead gorgeous, both to look at and in his manner. I’m not sure I’ll keep following football as avidly now as I have been, but I’m sure I’ll be following him and the wonderful Welsh team.

It’s surely all this football stuff that caused a familiar phrase to pop up in my mind this week and with it the story from which it comes. The phrase is ‘extendable legs’. And the story it comes from is one I told in this blog on 21st July, 2012. To read a full version of it, you can look back at that blog posting. Simply fill in the words Chinese Brothers in the Storyworks Blog References slot on the top left side of the blog. Then press Search and up it will come.

The story itself is one children love to remember. An example occurred earlier this summer when I said to the two children in a family we know that I had a special story to tell them. Because the 10-year old sister is potty about mermaids, this was going to be a mermaid story. But somehow or other the promise of a story immediately made the 7-year old brother remember  The Five Chinese Brothers which I’d told to them it must be three years ago. Volunteering that they still had the colourful Chinese pin-cushion I’d taken them as a present to go with the story, he started recalling the magic powers that are at its centre.

The Five Chinese Brothers: (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Body stories

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Only a week to go. The Olympics are about to begin, London is getting ever more crowded and already it’s becoming quite a bodily skill to manoeuvre a way through the crowds. Meantime, newspapers and TV are full of the physical skills of the athletes. There’s also lots about the psychology of competing and the determination and persistence involved in increasing bodily prowess, let alone the mental skills required to stay focused and cool. It’s absorbing.

I won’t be going to the games myself. I’ll be watching on TV at home while devoting my mind to thinking about physical skills and bodily parts. For that’s my theme for the next few weeks.

I’m starting today with one of my favourite stories. I call it Five Chinese Brothers. It’s a marvellous story for adults to tell and children to hear. Like the extendable legs in the story, it somehow seems able to stretch up the age-range from children of about five years old to children of eleven or twelve. And as you’ll see when you read the story, extendable legs are just one of the story’s magical powers. But first, here’s a bit of background about how I first came to hear this tale.

Five Chinese Brothers – some background

I first heard the story from Beulah Candappa, the inspirational storyteller from Burma who was one of the first full-time storytellers I got to know in London during the 1980s when storytelling as an art was reviving.

Beulah was the daughter of a headteacher and chieftain. She’d turned from teaching to full-time storytelling because she so strongly believed in the necessity for people to have stories. Stories had been part of her own life since childhood. She was generous in the way she shared them. Always calm and serene in her manner, she would carry with her baskets of fascinating folk objects and set these out in the course of her tellings, creating a wonderful theatre of the imagination.

Beulah has influenced me a lot. Once in a conversation on the phone, she memorably described storytelling to me as ‘the art of time and silence’. And when she wrote a piece for the booklet that accompanied By Word of Mouth, my Channel 4 TV series on storytelling that was shown in 1990, it was enticingly entitled, A Crackle of Excitement.

That’s Beulah – a wonderful combination of quiet serenity and an electric buzz of excitement. I think of her whenever I think of this tale, which I’ve probably adapted in various ways in the course of dozens of tellings over the years.

Five Chinese Brothers – the story (more…)