Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Karen Tovell’

Storytelling Starters ~ Make it!

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

It’s summer-time and time for fun. Last week it was The Flea’s Adventure. This week, it’s The Captain’s T-shirt, another ‘doing’ story that children adore and for which I have to thank brilliant storyteller, Sally Tonge, who first showed me how to do it. Plus, thanks to another great storyteller, Karen Tovell, today’s delights include The Magic Jumping Flea Trick, an excellent device to intrigue and enrapture children which she sent in during the week in response to last week’s story.  (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…)

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…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The Magic of Objects: 5

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

The Flexible Fan

Fabulous, fan-u-lous, fascinating …

a piece of material that can make a flexible fan inspires imaginations, sparks imagery and fires story-potential.

How I discovered the magic of the flexible fan

My most flexible fan – the  brown-beige one pictured here – was given to me on one of the storytelling courses that I ran in Redbridge at the end of the 1980s. The courses were mainly for parents and I was asked to run them as a contribution to the borough’s National Oracy Project programme. Consisting of a half-day session per week, each of the courses ran for ten weeks. Almost apologetically at the end of one session, one participant on one of the courses (she also worked as a school dinner-lady) handed me this odd piece of pleated fabric. ‘You never know,’ she said, ‘it might come in useful.’ I asked her where she’d got it. ‘It’s a piece of cut-off old blind,’ she reported.

Around the same time, my storyteller colleague, Karen Tovell, (we ran ten years of monthly workshops together) showed me how to use a much larger flexible fan made from two sheets of fibre-paper in order to tell the lovely Chinese story of the Willow Pattern plate. I remember being entranced as Karen showed me how many different shapes could be created – tree, bridge, door, sun, moon, boat , bird, stars- and how magical they could be in a story.

How to provide yourself with your own flexible fan (more…)