Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘George Ewart Evans Centre’

Storytelling Starters ~ Where Corals Lie

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Years ago in a project at the Commonwealth Institute as then was, the wonderful Kathie Prince was the musician, I was the storyteller. It was a brilliant time and, for me, one of its most enriching aspects was how much I learned from Kathie. For instance, I learned the involvement with audiences of varying age that can be brought about through little songs where the audience can help create new verses by offering fresh ideas t0 fit in the pattern. Or where involvement is deepened through the use of differently fascinating instruments. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ What’s the answer?

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

For some unknown reason, a half-remembered phrase is haunting my mind. The part I think I’m remembering consists of the following words: a promise to the future. But are those words part of a riddle? And, if so, what is the answer? What is the promise to the future?  A letter is the possible answer that is drifting into my mind.

But can a letter be a promise to the future? In many circumstances, I suppose it can. A letter to a friend or a relative may be a vouchsafe of future contact. And I suppose that, even if the letter ends a relationship, it can be a promise to the future as in: I’m never going to talk to you again, that’s it for ever.

Well, maybe one of you much-valued blog-readers will enlighten me as to the riddle, if riddle it is. Meantime, let me confess the reason the bothersome question came into my mind in the first place. The answer lies in the unusual fact that I’m writing this blog three whole days before it gets published on Saturday. So it really does feel like a promise to the future. For who knows what may have happened between now and then? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Old ghosts

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

My first copies of Storytelling and Story-Reading in Early Years  arrived this last Monday. It was very exciting opening the box. The book has a pleasing look about it and I felt delighted to have copies actually in my hand. Since it arrived, however, what’s been very odd is how much thinking it has prompted in me now that I’ve seen it in print.  On Thursday evening, I took an opportunity to speak about this.

It was a meeting of our WIPs group. (WIPs stands for Works in Progress: it has got nothing at all to do with whips except that meetings do provide the opportunity to whip ourselves into action.) There are eleven of us. We include singers, pianists, poets, artists, writers, a composer and a sculptor. Some do more than one of these things. This week one of four available slots was for me, a chance not just to wave my new book about but to reflect on what the writing of it had meant to me. From this vantage point I could see it had raised some old ghosts.

One of the ghosts took me back to the early days of what is now recognized as the Storytelling Revival.  During those 1980s, it felt like an ancient art was being rediscovered. Storytellers then coming forward had grown up in fascinatingly different traditions of story, many from other countries. A troupe that especially fascinated me,  Common Lore, combined stories with music and drumming from many different lands. The compelling rhythms of their music and the fascination of such a wide variety of backgrounds among their performers had me gripped. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ My storytelling goes for a walk

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

P1060967The sky was bright blue. Sun poured through the window. My friend rang up: ‘Let’s walk. We’ll meet for coffee.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’ll set off right now.’ It was the right thing to do. Later can so easily become never. Besides the long walk to Tooting Common from Brixton allowed time for my thoughts to dip in and out of my mind and settle. Here are some of them:

How lovely it was…

. . . to get two excellent comments on last week’s blog. Liz said she’d tried the Doors visualisation to powerful effect. She’d closed her eyes and over the next 20 minutes had brought to mind all the doors that had opened up in her life and led her to where she is now. Karen wrote about a boy who’d had extremely distressing eczema and who was taught a visualisation that brought him great relief in which he saw a cellar door that led down to a calming pool in which he could immerse himself. From mind to body, it’s powerful stuff.

How grateful I felt

. . . for all the care that was taken by my host for my two performances in North Wales last week. In Llangollen last Friday, Fiona Collins (who is a storyteller of great and wide experience and also my very old friend) carefully arranged the tables and chairs, put up two lovely pieces of fabric behind my performing space, lit the candles she’d brought for each table and created such a warm and friendly atmosphere. The same kind of thing happened in Llandudno the following night. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Who wins?

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

I like coincidences and synchronicities. An odd one brought to a conclusion the story of my nomination for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for 2014.

NZbirdcompressThe alert:

It dawned on me the other day that I’d forgotten when this year’s winner was to be announced. By far the biggest in children’s literature, the Award is worth almost half a million pounds and – imagine! – it’s open to oral storytellers as well as writers and illustrators. Nominations are made by all kinds of registered bodies around the world and last year I’d been asked by the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling in Cardiff if I’d be willing to be their nominee for the 2014 award. I felt honoured to be nominated. I gladly accepted.

The winner:

So there I was the other day, wondering where the Astrid Lindgren process had got to. When I looked it up on Google, how surprised I was! What came up was the alert: the Award was to be announced in one hour’s time. And an hour later, there it was. This year’s winner is Barbro Lindgren who is a Swedish children’s writer though evidently no relation of Astrid who was of course the creator of Pippi Longstocking as well as many other children’s characters and stories. Congratulations to Barbro Lindgren.

TwobirdscompressWhat now?

‘So that’s done’ was my first thought. Then I realised the announcement had set me thinking. Why has no oral storyteller ever won? The brief answer, I guess, is that, realistically, the award is a publishing award: the winners’ books get translated and republished in other languages.

You can’t publish oral storytelling. So then why is the award also open to oral storytellers? And how is an oral storyteller to be judged alongside writers and illustrators? What oral storytellers do is live.

I’m not asking these things because I’m miffed not to win. Outside outright fantasy, I’d never dreamed that I would. Why I’m asking is because I’d have loved to win – not for myself, not for the money but for the sake of oral storytelling itself and for what so many of us do in so many countries across the world and in so many individual ways. Storytelling is not a mega-bucks activity. It’s not much recognised or celebrated. Yet I believe it’s a vital thing. And I know this from seeing the effect it has on children when it’s done. I know it because they love it.

The letter:

CormorantcompressSo that’s why I’m about to write to the Astrid Lindgren organisation. I intend to ask them to think about why their award is open to oral storytellers but has never, even in part, been awarded to one. Might they not be able to use their international prestige to help the cause of oral storytelling in some practical way, perhaps by honouring some exponents of it?

My letter is almost ready. It’ll go off at the start of next week. Come to think of it, though, perhaps I should be sending a couple of birds instead.

In my Welsh class this week we talked about the Welsh poetic tradition of sending a bird as a messenger,  llatai. Maybe a couple of birds arriving in the post would draw a bit more attention!

I’ll keep you posted if I get a reply.

See you next week. And do remember to subscribe to my blog if you like it.